Deferred Payment Loans for Energy Efficiency: Case Study of a Low- and Moderate-Income Home Improvement Financing Model and Potential Application to Energy Efficiency Projects

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Policy Brief

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Energy efficiency can provide important benefits for low- and moderate-income households such as lower utility bills and healthier, more comfortable homes, but the upfront costs of efficiency improvements are often a barrier. Extending financing to these households can help overcome this barrier but presents its own challenges, including the financial burden of monthly payments and the risk of incurring the repercussions of nonpayment. 

The deferred payment loan model can give low- and moderate-income households access to energy efficiency without the financial burden of monthly payments while mitigating the risk of nonpayment. From a program sponsor perspective, when grant funds are limited or unavailable, the model provides certain advantages of both grants and financing. Like a grant, target recipients have minimal risk, but like a loan, funds can serve multiple participants since the funding can be revolved. Organizations in several parts of the country have employed the model to provide safe, healthy homes by paying for home repair and home improvement. 

This case study provides a detailed overview of the deferred payment loan program for home improvements known as the Home Repair Program run by the Opportunity Council, a Community Action Agency (CAA) serving three counties in Washington State. This case study also considers two other CAA-administered deferred payment loan programs – one in Wisconsin and another in Michigan.

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