Climate Laws Are Changing Lives: Low Rents, Solar Power

by Vital Signs Authors

Low rents, solar power

University Neighborhood Housing Program, a nonprofit, affordable housing provider in New York City, was used to operating on tight margins. And then COVID hit. “Our costs skyrocketed,” says Brendan Mitchell, director of real estate and finance.

The nonprofit oversees 25 buildings offering 1,500 apartments to low-income residents in the Bronx. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, solar power is easing the organization’s financial problems.

“We explored solar back in 2015,” Mitchell says. “But it was prohibitively expensive.” Brendan Mitchell, center, says affordable solar funded by the IRA helps keep rents down. (

The IRA enables direct payments to nonprofit, affordable housing providers to underwrite the cost of solar installations. Solar power reduces a building’s reliance on climate-damaging fossil fuels and saves money on electricity.

UNHP has already installed seven solar arrays. In the buildings covered, Mitchell says, “for the most part, we don’t have electric bills.” UNHP is using the savings to keep rents down and maintain buildings.

Now, the organization is planning another IRA-assisted solar project, with battery backup, at a property that’s home to more than 100 seniors. “When the power goes out, the battery will allow us to run a cooling center and the elevators and have some lighting in the hallways,” Mitchell says. During a heatwave or other extreme weather event, that kind of system can save lives. “We’ve been talking about a project like this for years,” Mitchell says. “But with the IRA, it’s finally possible.” Read the full article here