Industry News

Weatherize Your Building to Reduce Costs and Improve Your Investment

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:20:00 -1000

Todd Burley, Communications Director, City of Seattle

Ms. Chung recently bought a four unit apartment building in Seattle that was constructed in 1979. Like many older multi-family buildings, it was far from energy efficient. The heating systems were old and outdated, and it had little to no insulation. This meant higher utility costs and a decrease in tenant comfort and satisfaction.  

She wanted to keep her rents affordable for her long-time tenants, but also wanted to improve the efficiency and durability of her building. This is where the City of Seattle’s HomeWise Weatherization Program comes in. This program provides heating system upgrades, insulation, fans, air sealing, and other improvements for little to no cost to the owner.  In exchange, the owner agrees to restrict rent increases for at least three years and prioritize renting to low-income tenants. At least half of the existing tenants must qualify as lower-income to participate in the program.

“I live in the neighborhood,” states Chung. “This is a long-term investment for me.”

HomeWise is a win-win. Tenants get increased comfort, satisfaction, and lower utility bills, as well as stable rents. Owners benefit from lower maintenance costs, improved durability of the building, an increase in their property value, and more satisfied tenants that may result in less turnover.

 “Our weatherization program has a 30 year track record of working with property owners to improve their buildings and decrease energy and utility costs,” stated Jennifer LaBrecque, program manager for the HomeWise Program. “We are very interested in reaching more small property owners who are renting to lower-income households and could take advantage of this program.”

In 2015, the City of Seattle weatherized 575 homes, but only eight units were in small multi-family buildings with four units or less. “We know that many of our members could benefit from this program,” said Sean Martin, RHAWA External Affairs Director, “so we are excited to work with the City to spread the word.”

For more information on the HomeWise program, visit http://www.seattle.gov/housing/housing-developers/multifamily-weatherization or call (206) 684-0255.

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