Green Homeowners United: Statement on First Citizens Bank $16 billion community benefit agreement

MilwaukeeGreen Homeowners United, a residential green construction and energy auditing firm, is proud to stand with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, YWCA Southeastern Wisconsin and all other organizations working to ensure a fair lending agreement with First Citizens Bank as part of their merger with CIT Bank. This $16 billion over 5 years community benefit agreement will ensure equitable lending terms for low & moderate income residents, and joins the bank in offering “green mortgages” to help reduce carbon emissions.

First Citizens Bank has branches in 19 states, and 22 branches in Wisconsin. 

Elements of the agreement include:

  • $3.2 billion in new residential lending to Black, Latino, Asian and Low/Moderate income homebuyers and refinancers.
  • $5.9 billion in small business lending to underserved communities.
  • Introduction of green mortgages to include energy efficiency improvements to homes during purchase or refinance.

More on agreement here

Green Mortgages 

Included in the agreement is a commitment to offer Green Mortgages to those refinancing and purchasing homes. Green mortgages are products offered by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA & FHA that all for additional fair financing for energy efficiency improvements to the property, such as solar panels, insulation and smart devices. Green mortgages allow the best financing terms currently available to access the upgrades that cut carbon emissions and reduce utility bills. Green mortgages effectively make it “no-cost” to improve the home’s energy efficiency, as the utility bill savings outweigh the cost of paying the bank over the mortgage term and low interest interest rates. Currently Midwestern banks such as Associated Bank in Green Bay WI, One Community Bank in Oregon WI, and Merchant’s Bank in Onalaska WI are offering green mortgages, to name a few. All banks and credit unions can offer green mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Green Homeowners United 

Green Homeowners United is a Wisconsin-based firm which helps residents with obtaining fair green financing, home energy assessments, economic modeling and green construction. Green Homeowners United has helped homeowners install solar panels, reduce heat loss through attics and basements, increase water efficiency rates and address cold air infiltration; all of which help reduce carbon emissions from homes.

Through connecting homebuyers and those considering refinancing with green mortgage lenders, Green Homeowners United ensures that everyday Wisconsinites can fight climate change at home and be rewarded for it. The majority of our clients pay nothing up front and save more in lower utility bills than they pay in higher mortgage payments to the bank. And with interest rates historically low, many homeowners can reduce both their mortgage payments and utilities to save big while cutting carbon emissions.

Three examples of the effectiveness of green mortgages:

  • Michele Hilbert, Milwaukee – Michele’s green mortgage refinance through Merchant’s Bank paid for solar panels, reducing heat loss through the attic, and sealing of the ductwork. Despite being home far more now, her heating bills haven’t risen and have instead dropped. And Michele’s monthly mortgage payments have fallen after the refinance, even including the full cost of these improvements, making the program effectively no cost.
  • Joel Lewis, Wausau – Joel’s green mortgage refinance through Associated Bank fully covered solar panels, air sealing, shower and faucet improvements including thermostatic valves to reduce waste, and insulated water heater and pipes. Between electric, gas, water/sewer and mortgage savings, the Lewis Family will save over $2,000 each year from the green mortgage.
  • Patrick Stoffel, Mazomanie – Patrick’s green home improvement through Associated Bank included solar panels, an electric vehicle charger, improved window and door weatherstripping, LEDs and water efficiency improvements. Patrick’s costs are less than the savings, as most months he has no electric bill and his heat bill has shrunk, while owing nothing up front.

“We are glad for First Citizens Bank’s commitment to investing into the communities where it will make the biggest impact to working people, especially working people of color,” said Kevin Kane, chief economist for Green Homeowners United. “We look forward to when all mortgage lenders will follow First Citizens Bank’s example helping people access green mortgages. Cutting carbon emissions at home and becoming green homeowners!”

To connect with these or other green homeowners about their experiences, reach out to us at [email protected]