Roundtable Weekly
Office-to-Residential Conversions Part of New Biden Plan to Increase Energy-Efficient, Affordable Housing Supply
July 28, 2023
The White House The Biden administration announced a new initiative yesterday to increase the energy-efficient affordable housing supply, including a multi-agency working group to “develop and advance federal funding opportunities” for commercial-to-residential reuse. (Reuters and HousingWire, July 27) Support for Office Conversions
  • White House Chief Domestic Policy Adviser Neera Tanden said, “With high rates of commercial vacancies across the country, we see a tremendous opportunity for conversions to residential housing.” (PoliticoPro, July 27)
  • An administration statement listed a variety of new initiatives aimed at lowering housing costs and boosting supply that include:
    • Promoting commercial-to-residential conversion opportunities, particularly for affordable and zero emissions housing; 
    • Expanding financing for affordable, energy efficient and resilient housing; and,
    •  Reducing barriers to build housing such as restrictive and costly land use and zoning rules. 
Agency Actions  HUD building in Washington, DC
  • HUD: Yesterday’s announcement included opportunities for localities that develop high-density zoning rules to apply for grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a new “Pro-Housing” Program. This follows HUD’s release on Tuesday of new funds for research and policy guidance on economically viable office-to-residential conversions, with applications due by October 12. (HUD Press Release)
  • DOT: A similar grant program run by the Department of Transportation (DOT), “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods,” will provide funds for planning and construction projects (primarily in disadvantaged communities) for transit-oriented affordable housing.
  • EPA: The White House also announced that the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be available for energy efficiency building retrofits and commercial-to-residential conversions.
  • GSA: The White House statement advised that the General Services Administration (GSA) will launch an effort to identify under-utilized and surplus assets in the federal real estate portfolio that present the “best opportunities” for public-private partnership, commercial-to-residential projects.
  • DOE: Yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) released program and legal documents for $8.8 billion in rebates authorized by the IRA. State-level energy agencies will dole out federal rebates that can be used for high-efficiency appliances and electrification equipment installed in single-family homes and multifamily units, including measures in adaptive reuse projects
This week’s announcements follow commitments made by the Biden-Harris administration in its Housing Supply Action Plan, released in May 2022. That month, The Real Estate Roundtable and 18 other real estate organizations urged Congress to work with the Biden administration, housing providers, lenders, and other stakeholders to pursue bipartisan solutions to increase the nation’s supply of housing. (Coalition letter, May 23 and Roundtable Weekly, May 22)  #  #  #