How Do We Move WAP Funding Into Multifamily Affordable Housing? 

3 min read

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provided $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP); a ten-times increase that is to be spent in the next five years. This is on top of the regular WAP funds the states receive annually. As explained in Weatherizing Multifamily Affordable Housing with BIL Funding, (Tax Credit Advisor, August 2022, p. 22) most states (44) do not have a multifamily program and serve single-family homes. Multifamily affordable housing developers, owners and managers should see this as an opportunity to upgrade their properties, primarily with government funding. 

WAP is a bureaucratic institution with a long history. Most state agencies are set in their ways. Most of the current WAP service providers have been at it for the past 30 years and are entrenched institutions with established ways of doing things. Change will be difficult for most of them. In advocating for increased focus on multifamily affordable housing, the industry will have to offer a roadmap that makes it easy for state WAP agencies to meet their BIL spending goals and maximize community benefits while putting forth minimal effort. These agencies need to be convinced that serving multifamily affordable housing will allow them to reach a neglected population of low-income households and it can be done cost-effectively and quickly. (Multifamily programs can be scaled faster and more easily because the multifamily service providers utilize local commercial contractors. Single-family service providers typically rely on internal crews, which, especially given the tight labor market, they will not be able to quickly grow to serve more single-family homes.) The multifamily industry can advocate at the state agency level for two approaches that will soften the ground for them and their current service providers to serve multifamily affordable housing:  

1. State Agency Retains a Statewide Service Provider for Multifamily Affordable Housing 
The state agency hires a multifamily affordable housing specialist (service provider) for the whole state that will focus only on multifamily properties. This service provider will help the state agency meet all WAP requirements while spending the BIL funding with the help of local contractors (that also specialize in multifamily work). 

2. Service Providers Subcontract Multifamily Affordable Housing Specialists 
Current service providers can subcontract multifamily affordable housing specialists that will help them spend their BIL funds and serve a population they have been unable to serve. 

Multifamily affordable housing owners, developers and managers can help identify and recruit multifamily experts who can focus solely on multifamily affordable housing projects. National Housing & Rehabilitation Association will help provide support and advice as requested. (E.g., NH&RA can provide a template for a multifamily affordable housing-focused ‘Request for Proposals’ that the state agency or service provider may need.) 

Caveat: The Department of Energy rules require WAP service providers to be 501c3 nonprofits, including those serving multifamily affordable housing. And these organizations need to have expertise in everything from client education to property assessments to engineering to construction management to inspection and reporting. Another key skill is the ability to leverage multiple funding resources (e.g., utility rebates, green incentives, etc.) to reduce the necessary WAP dollars per project and the financial contribution required from the owner.  

Visit to view all state WAP agencies.    

Ravi Malhotra has provided turn-key solutions for the green retrofit of multifamily properties through ICAST and Triple Bottom Line Foundation.