HIP Tool: Preservation & Rehabilitation

Preservation and rehabilitation efforts are aimed at retaining existing affordable housing, including both subsidized and unsubsidized housing. Programs include preservation/rehabilitation of subsidized affordable units with expiring affordability covenants, affordable housing at risk of redevelopment or conversion), and repair and maintenance (including weatherization) for affordable multi-family units and single-family homes suffering from disinvestment.


One of the greatest threats to the long term availability of affordable units, especially those affordable to households with incomes less than 80% of area median, is the loss of existing units. These types of units often are not typically built today or are more expensive to rebuild. Units may fall into disrepair and become uninhabitable, landlords may opt out of the rental assistance voucher program, or units may be at risk of being converted from rental to ownership units or to non-affordable homes. Unique affordable housing opportunities, such as single-room occupancy (SRO) and resident hotel or efficiency units, are often found in older buildings. A variety of housing preservation and rehabilitation programs exist including: combining historic preservation with affordable housing goals and funding; using Transfer of Development Rights to preserve low-density affordable units; and converting buildings that have outlived their original uses (e.g., multi-story warehouses, hotels, churches).

Funding sources are key to maintaining affordable units. Federal money for preservation and rehabilitation is channeled to local and state programs through the, Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and HOME Investment Partnerships Program. Strategies for maintaining units may also involve selling/donating the units to non-profit, affordable housing organizations, organizing cooperatives, land banking, and preserving manufactured home communities.

A good place to start is with an assessment of affordable units, including the means by which they remain affordable and their present condition. This will reveal the current state of affordable units and how their affordability is maintained, which help you target methods and funding sources that address the issues specific to your jurisdiction. Next, investigate places where affordable housing could be located. Adaptive reuse of vacant or underutilized buildings and brownfield and greyfield redevelopment hold great potential for housing conversion. These properties may also be eligible for funding through EPA brownfield redevelopment grants or historic preservation tax credits, loans and grants.

For any affordable unit, especially those built in primarily market-rate developments, sale of a unit, conversion to market rate housing or, for rental housing, conversion to owner-occupied housing, can jeopardize long-term affordability. Affordability covenants attached to a home’s deed or title can maintain income restrictions or rental prices linked to area median income.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Urban Centers
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Expensive Housing Markets
  • Innovative Single Family Techniques

Project Types

  • Single Family
  • Multifamily
  • Ownership
  • Rental
  • Subsidized

Affordability Level

  • Less than 80% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Affordability
  • Diversity