A new report by a group of environmentally focused nonprofits outlines the need for investment in low-income housing retrofits.
Earthjustice, the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and Sierra Club Maryland recently released a report titled,“Charting a Pathway to Maryland’s Equitable Clean Energy Future: Electrification and Building Upgrades for Low-Income Residences.” The report outlines the need for investment in retrofits for low-income households to meet the state’s climate goals under Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022. Advocates note that this effort is largely falling behind due to a lack of coordination at the state level.
Solving Maryland’s two biggest challenges, climate change and housing, will require strategic investments and a renewed focus on intergovernmental coordination. While policy and services are primarily implemented at the local level, involvement by the state and federal actors is necessary to coordinate a broader statewide and national strategy.
The report outlines four broad areas where the state can take action to decarbonize the building sector and fund high-quality housing for low-income Marylanders:
1. Set a 2030 goal with targets for decarbonizing Maryland’s low-income homes
2. Implement a “whole-home” initiative that overcomes barriers to upgrading low-income homes and prioritizes electrification
3. Align applicable federal, state, and additional funding sources to a whole-home upgrade and electrification program
4. Establish long-term utility planning to manage the transition of Maryland’s housing sector away from fossil fuels and reduce energy burdens
The main issue is that the portion of housing stock most utilized by low-income residents is often older and more reliant on fossil fuels. These units are frequently less energy efficient, and there is currently no incentive for landlords to perform necessary energy and environmental upgrades. This furthers a system where low-income residents only have access to unhealthier and less efficient housing compared to their wealthy counterparts.
Solving our climate and housing crisis requires a multi-level and multi-prong approach. Stakeholders from all levels of government, nonprofits, for-profit developers, and landlords must work together if Maryland is to both meet its climate goals and resolve the current historic lack of housing.