Under 1 Roof Initiative, San Antonio, Texas

The Under 1 Roof Initiative is an example of local funding programs that create incentives for residents to retrofit vulnerable homes to prepare for climate change impacts like urban heat. In 2016, San Antonio launched the Under 1 Roof Initiative to replace old roofs with free, energy-efficient cool roofs. Under 1 Roof distributes funds through the city’s Neighborhood Housing Service (NHS) to replace the roofs of qualifying applicants, including the elderly, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and low-income residents. Through a partnership between the municipal utility and the city, households that do not qualify for direct funding from the NHS remain eligible to receive rebates for self-installed cool roofs. In 2018, San Antonio’s city council approved a $2.25 million budget to expand the Under 1 Roof Initiative to five other districts in the city.

In San Antonio, the cost of living has become increasingly expensive in the last two decades as housing costs in the region have steadily surpassed the Area Median Income.1 Meanwhile, the city’s rapid development has contributed to a growing urban heat island, leading to temperature differences of up to 20 degrees between the city’s urban core and its surrounding rural areas. One potential measure to help alleviate the urban heat island effect is installing cool roofs, which could decrease a home’s temperature in summer up to 23 degrees in the summer and save households an average of $1,200 per year in energy costs.2 A high-reflectance roof can also extend the lifespan of the city’s affordable housing units, and reduce the need for demolition of buildings with failing roofs caused by the severe weather events including hail, high winds and felled trees. 

The City of San Antonio created the Under 1 Roof program in 2016 and the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department administered the program. The program focuses on replacing aging and damaged roofs with free, new and high-reflectance roofs. The program targets low-income residents, the elderly, veterans, and people who are differently-abled in all ten districts in the city. The applicants must have 100 percent ownership of property, and all homeowners must live in the house as their homestead, and have paid the property taxes on the house. In addition, the property must be less than 1,700 square feet of living area. The application processing usually takes about six months. After the roof installment, homeowners then must obey a five-year restrictive covenant. 

As the roof replacement policy has been implemented over five years, the implementation techniques have improved and the price per roof has decreased by 30 percent. In other words, more roofs can be replaced and installed. Since 2019, it has installed over 500 high-efficiency roofs.3 While this program is funded by the city, it also received donations from the public. This program illustrates one way cities can help socially and economically vulnerable residents prepare for extreme heat.

Publication Date: 2016

Related Organizations:

  • City of San Antonio, Texas

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  • Funding program

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