Solar for Affordable Housing

Since its launch in July 2019, the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program has become the nation’s largest investment in clean energy serving low-income and disadvantaged communities. Some 380 projects have applied for funding and are moving through the pipeline to construction.

EHC was a co-sponsor and leading advocate for the legislation that created California’s Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program and is now deeply engaged in ensuring the program provides maximum community benefit.

We celebrate the completion of a successful first year and look back at the accomplishments of SOMAH and EHC. Once constructed, these 380 active applications equate to 82 megawatts of new solar energy on affordable housing properties in California, representing 27% of the program’s total goal to install 300 MW of solar by 2030.

26% of the applications are located in disadvantaged communities defined by CalEnviroScreen scores (or DACs), benefiting those who are most impacted by toxic pollution and a lack of economic opportunity. Once constructed, the SOMAH projects will benefit Californians for decades by:

  • Providing savings for nearly 32,000 tenant units
  • Directing 90% of the savings to tenants
  • Creating over 700 job training opportunities

The SOMAH program is about partnerships and a community-based approach. EHC is one of five community-based organizations (CBOs) in California that works directly with the program administrator to help communicate benefits to tenants, job seekers and the community we live in.

This year, EHC conducted a series of six virtual mini-workshops with Community Action Teams in National City, Barrio Logan and City Heights, which introduced the SOMAH program, how solar energy works, clean energy jobs, and how to reduce energy use at home. We also conducted direct outreach to developers and owners of affordable housing in environmental justice (EJ) communities to ensure our communities are informed about the program and retain its benefits.

None of this is happening in a vacuum. EHC’s work with SOMAH continued as the world around us changed. Our communities saw the highest rates of coronavirus cases and a devastating spike in unemployment. Residents have experienced housing and power insecurity made worse by planned power outages, heatwaves, and fires. The benefits of clean power are needed NOW.

As frontline communities face a greater burden of energy cost and are disproportionately impacted by economic, environmental and racial injustice, expanding access to renewable energy technology and job training will tackle multiple issues at once. Investing in solar for affordable housing through programs like SOMAH will help Californians generate local, clean power while providing much-needed savings to families and creating economic opportunities for individuals.

If you rent an apartment, you could save on your electric bills if your landlord participates in the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program. Learn more about how SOMAH can help your landlord convert your building to low-cost solar energy: