Two bills before the Missouri General Assembly could significantly increase the number of low income housing units that are eligible to benefit from utility programs that were approved last year.
The 2016 regulations made it possible for utilities to provide energy efficiency benefits to owners of low-income and other multi-family properties, according to Midwest Energy News. But the state’s Housing Development Commission said that about 57,000 low-income housing units in about 1,100 structures are ineligible for the utility programs because they already are gaining benefits from the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act. The story says that the two sources of benefits are in conflict:
The bill expressly prohibits property owners who are collecting the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit from benefiting from utility-sponsored energy-efficiency programs. The Act also disallows buildings that are tapping the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit from taking advantage of the efficiency program.
Help may be on the way. The story says that two bills before general assembly could reduce the number of ineligible units. One bill deals only with the tax issue. The other is an omnibus energy bill that the story says is “highly contentious” and not likely to pass.
The situation in Missouri remains in flux. In general, low-income housing is a unique segment of the energy efficiency market. On one hand, landlords and owners are encouraged to upgrade properties. Laws generally limit the increase in rent that can be charged to a certain percentage of tenant’s income. This means that cutting costs can be a more effective strategy for increasing profitability.