For housing developer Bobby Jones, affordable housing is
sustainable housing. The D.C. native believes everyone deserves to live in a healthy home – a standard that’s not always attainable for low-income families.
“Oftentimes there’s this attitude that people in affordable housing deserve to live in substandard conditions,” Jones says, “and that’s just not the case. Everyone should be given a certain standard of healthy living.”
This challenge is particularly pressing in Greater Washington, a region that currently needs more than 30,000 additional homes
to accommodate low-income renters.
In 2022, Jones decided to take action to help tackle this ongoing housing crisis. With a $2 million loan from CFE and support from our partner DC Green Bank, Jones acquired a 1930s multifamily masonry building in Kingman Park to remodel as healthy homes for low-income residents.
The CFE loan is helping finance a deep energy retrofit of the four-unit building with the goal of achieving a Passive House certification, a standard for buildings that consume up to 90% less heating and cooling energy than conventional structures. Once renovations are completed, Jones plans to rent units to low-income families earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income through D.C.’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.
“It’s not enough from a social services perspective to say we need affordable housing,” Jones says. “If we don’t do it in a sustainable way, we’re just contributing to the climate crisis.”
The renovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering heating and cooling loads, helping improve environmental standards and saving low-income families hundreds of dollars annually in utilities.
Through his sustainability-focused housing development projects, Jones hopes to set a new standard for building practices that reduce carbon in an eco-efficient and cost-effective way. He envisions potentially influencing housing policies to drive structural change for affordable housing standards.
“We need to be operating at the intersection of affordable housing and energy efficiency,” he says. “Thanks to institutions like CFE, we have the opportunity to do so.”