With the looming threat of climate change and frequent natural disasters, there are more options available for energy-efficient, resilient, and weatherized housing. The upfront costs of these investments are too expensive for many low- and moderate-income households, however. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a May 18th hearing to explore options for climate change-resilient housing.
Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) opened the hearing by connecting the housing affordability crisis to the issue of resilient housing: “Nearly one third of families said they had difficulty paying energy bills in 2020… We can build more housing protected from fires and floods, we can renovate and upgrade the homes we already have.”
Three expert witnesses testified for the committee. Ruth Ann Norton from the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative spoke about the relationship between housing quality and health outcomes such as childhood asthma. Krista Egger from Enterprise Community Partners spoke about the long-term financial benefits of installing energy efficient appliances and green standards in government-funded affordable housing. A witness from the Heritage Foundation, Katie Tubb, argued that energy-efficient and resilient housing is desirable, but that it should not be mandated or funded by Congress.
Ranking Member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) agreed with Tubb that Americans who want to make their homes more resilient can do so without government intervention. In contrast, several other committee members spoke about bills they introduced to incentivize and support energy-efficient housing, especially for those living in affordable housing. The bills include:
- S.2616 Livable Communities Act, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- S.3140 Clean Energy for All Homes Act, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA)
- S.2361 Green Retrofits Act, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
The full hearing and witness testimonies are available on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee website.