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LINC in the News
Affordable Housing Community Cuts Energy Costs by 20% with Help
of Fannie Mae’s Green Program

Property Management Insider, April 10, 2014
By Tim Blackwell

With a housing property more than four decades old in need of renovation, LINC Housing Corporation realized an opportunity to reach deep into its bag of green retrofits.

The non-profit housing provider, which is no stranger to sustainable living, learned in 2012 how to work with public utilities and government funding to cover much of the costs of a major rehab project and add an eco-friendly twist that is paying dividends. LINC Housing has transformed City Gardens Apartment Homes in Santa Ana, Calif., into a model for how multifamily portfolios can save big on energy and utility costs.

The 274-unit garden-style affordable housing apartment community built in 1969 was in serious need of new roofing, siding, storm water drainage, balcony renovations and general repair. The last renovation was in the early 2000s when a little more than a dozen hot water boilers were upgraded.

While plotting a course of repairs, LINC Housing explored a green refinance program to cover much of a $617,000 renovation. Fannie Mae’s new Green Refinance Plus loan program provided the springboard for installing new energy-efficient fixtures, systems, and insulation.

Now, a year later and the majority of the upgrades completed, the community within 27 two-story apartment buildings in Southern California has cut energy costs by 20 percent and is on track to post a 34 percent return on investment over the next six years.

“Whenever we’re doing improvements to a property that are just basic improvements, we try to layer on the green improvements at the same time,” said Samara Larson, LINC’s director of sustainability.

Fannie Mae Loan Program Helps Low Income Housing Go Green

LINC Housing, which has specialized in affordable housing for 30 years in California, became the first multifamily company to receive a Green Refinance Plus loan, which Fannie Mae introduced in 2011. Green Refinance Plus is intended to refinance expiring mortgages of Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other affordable projects and lower annual operating costs by reducing energy consumption.

LINC received a $19.4 million loan from Fannie Mae’s Lender Partner Bellwether Enterprise that is being used to not only upgrade City Gardens but also to retire tax-exempt bonds and buy out a Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity partner.

By working with Fannie Mae and Bellwether Enterprise, Larson said, City Gardens was able to get more money for the project through a large commitment to sustainability improvements. After the loan was approved, LINC Housing partnered with five groups, including Southern California Gas Co. and Southern California Edison, to cover $397,000 in product cost and labor services that included a laundry list of improvements.

City Gardens got new boilers, energy-efficient lighting in common areas and apartments, a passive solar domestic water heating system, low-flow plumbing fixtures, upgraded forced air units and additional weatherization and insulation.   Continue »