Housing Advocates on the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program
With the new rollout of the Inflation Reduction Act, which stands as the most significant federal government action on climate change in history, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development created an opportunity for advocates to be seen, heard, and felt.
On October 27, NRDC, alongside more than 20 partner organizations, submitted comments to HUD's Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP): Request for Information. The highlight of this moment was collaborating with our national partners to center climate justice at the intersection of racial equity as it relates to housing policies. For example, we encouraged HUD to center equity in many ways, particularly in adopting selection criteria for GRRP, which should include principles that will ensure equitable prioritization of applicants. As best described by my colleague Mikyla Reta, “the Justice40 Initiative aims to direct 40 percent of all climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.”
Safe and healthy homes are a fundamental right. We exist in a world where climate change has no limitations. Race, socioeconomic status, and privilege do not exclude us from climate change's raw and real effects. Therefore, an honest assessment of inclusionary efforts and practices to protect the most underserved communities must be included in the rollout of the GRRP. Expanding equitable access through the way we treat applicants is necessary as such considerations can positively affect the current urban housing crisis. Solutions should include just and viable practices for low-income communities of color at greater risk of experiencing extreme climate change.
It is also imperative that, through programs like GRRP, other HUD agencies serve a more robust population of single parents, low-income parents, the elderly, and people with disabilities. These are critical factors in promoting equity and access to those most in need. As we know, amid the current housing crisis, housing is neither affordable nor available. Advocates like us will continue to do our part to promote equity and access for the unseen and the unheard. HUD must take the first step by adopting our recommendations.