LINCOLN–(KFOR June 22) The City of Lincoln today this week announced it has received the Honorable Mention Mayor’s Climate Protection Award for the South of Downtown Residential Rental Rehabilitation Program. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird accepted the award Thursday, June 20, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Kansas City, MO.

The award program, sponsored by Walmart, recognizes and honors mayors for their outstanding and innovative practices that increase energy efficiency, expand renewable energy, and/or reduce carbon emissions.

Launched in January 2023, the rehabilitation program offers up to $15,000 per dwelling unit to improve the quality of affordable rental housing by funding upgrades such as energy efficient windows and doors, additional insulation, roofing and foundation repairs, and other structural improvements.

“Receiving the Honorable Mention Mayor’s Climate Protection Award for our South of Downtown Residential Rental Rehabilitation Program highlights Lincoln’s ongoing work to advance sustainability, affordable housing, and quality of life for all,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “I thank the U.S. Conference of Mayors for the recognition and our team at the City of Lincoln for their work to create this innovative initiative.”

Lincoln is one of six cities in the “large city” category to win the award. Other winners include Reno, NV; Madison, WI; Dearborn, MI; Bridgeport, CT; and San Diego, CA.

The South of Downtown Residential Rental Rehabilitation Program initially focused on 130 units in parts of Near South and Everett neighborhoods in an area south of downtown bounded by Lincoln Mall, “A”, South Ninth and South 17th streets. The City’s Urban Development Department and other stakeholders reviewed grant applications and prioritized their selections based on the opportunity to increase a rental unit’s affordability, energy efficiency, accessibility, and safety.

The pilot program and grants are funded primarily through tax increment financing generated by improvements to the area. NeighborWorks Lincoln, a non-profit community housing development organization, will administer and monitor grant use.

Participants will also be encouraged to take advantage of other available improvement programs, such as lead paint remediation, provided by the City, and energy efficiency programs offered by community partners like Lincoln Electric System and Black Hills Energy.

For more information on the South of Downtown Residential Rental Rehabilitation Program, visit lincoln.ne.gov/sodorentalrehab.