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Reps. Huffman and Heck Introduce Bill to Help Homeowners Invest In Energy Efficiency

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Bill updates Title I Home and Property Improvement Loan Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 9, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Reps. Jared Huffman (D-California) and Denny Heck (D-Washington) today  introducednew legislation to help homeowners make investments in their homes and save money on their electricity and water bills. The Solar and Water-Efficient Homes Act would improve and modernize theTitle I Home and Property Improvement Loan Program, one of America’s oldest tools for assisting homeowners to remodel and upgrade their homes, and spur homeowners to invest in efficiency upgrades, greywater systems and other water-conserving improvements, photovoltaic panels, and new HVAC systems.

“Title I loans have helped hundreds of thousands of homeowners improve their homes,” Huffman said. “It’s time we make it easier for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency upgrades and improve water conservation, creating good local jobs, and helping the environment.”

“Home improvement is already a $300 billion industry that generates nearly two percent of U.S. economic activity,” Heck said. “With more incentives, we can make that growth even larger, creating more jobs to support the economic uptick. This bill encourages responsible upgrades in energy efficiency for homeowners and as a result, boosts the economy for everyone.”

Today’s bill introduction comes on the heels of the Obama Administration’s announcement of an initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, including low-income communities. The bill complements these administrative actions with the statutory changes necessary for success.

The Solar and Water-Efficient Homes Act would:

  • Update the maximum loan amount under the Title I program to account for inflation since 1992 and index this loan amount to account for inflation in future years.
  • Incentivize home energy and water efficiency improvements, including the installation of photovoltaic panels or greywater systems, house weatherization, and the purchase of efficient HVAC systems.
  • Provide the Federal Housing Administration with authority to ensure that any additional risk associated with these loans is properly offset.
  • Remove statutory requirements that have hampered a robust secondary market and limited the availability of these loans.

Homeowners can incur high up-front costs when improving home energy efficiency. Ensuring that low- and middle-income homeowners and tenants have access to capital for these improvements will become increasingly important in the years ahead, particularly as the housing market recovers and mortgage rates rise. Investments in housing stock create local jobs and support the small businesses that take on a majority of single family home contracting and improvements.

Currently, the maximum loan available for a single family house is $25,000 for a 20 year term. These loans are also frequently used to improve home fire safety, allow the elderly to age in place, and increase accessibility for disabled individuals.

A factsheet on the bill can be found HERE.

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