In the next two weeks, Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Today, House Appropriations Chairman Obey released the details of the economic stimulus bill. The bill contains major new housing initiatives.
By my calculation the bill contains $25.6 billion in low income housing and related funding.
Below are the housing related provisions I have extracted from the bill. I can find very little quarrel with in the proposed spending categories except I would have liked to have seen a portion of the funds directed into the National Housing Trust Fund.
Attacking the Housing Crisis
· Public Housing Capital Fund: $5 billion for building repair and modernization, including critical safety repairs. Every dollar of Capital Fund expenditures produces $2.12 in economic return. $4 billion of the funds will be distributed to public housing authorities through the existing formula and $1 billion will be awarded through a competitive process for projects that improve energy efficiency.
· HOME Investment Partnerships: $1.5 billion to help local communities build and rehabilitate low-income housing using green technologies. Thousands of ready-to-go housing projects have been stalled by the credit crunch. Funds are distributed by formula.
· Native American Housing Block Grants: $500 million to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at some of the over 42,000 housing units maintained by Native American housing programs. Half of the funding will be distributed by formula and half will be competitively awarded to projects that can be started quickly.
· Neighborhood Stabilization: $4.2 billion to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight.
· Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.5 billion for the Emergency Shelter Grant program to provide short term rental assistance, housing relocation, and stabilization services for families during the economic crisis. Funds are distributed by formula.
· Rural Housing Insurance Fund: $500 million to support $22 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees to help rural families and individuals buy homes during the credit crunch. Last year these programs received $13.4 billion more in applications than they could fund.
· Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program: $10 million for rural, high-need areas to undertake projects using sustainable and energy-efficient building and rehabilitation practices. Funds will be awarded by competition to projects that can begin quickly.
· Lead Paint: $100 million for competitive grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to remove lead-based paint hazards in low-income housing.
· Rural Community Facilities: $200 million to support $1.2 billion in grants and loans to rural areas for critical community facilities, such as for healthcare, education, fire and rescue, day care, community centers, and libraries. There are over $1.2 billion in applications pending.
Community Services Block Grant: $1 billion for grants to local communities to support employment, food, housing, and healthcare efforts serving those hardest hit by the recession. Community action agencies have seen dramatic increases in requests for their assistance due to rising unemployment, housing foreclosures, and high food and fuel prices.
Community Development Block Grants: $1 billion for community and economic development projects including housing and services for those hit hard by tough economic times.
Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits: $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces. Funds will be competitively awarded.
Home Weatherization: $6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient.
Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. In 2008, there were $2.4 billion in requests for water and waste loans and $990 million for water and waste grants went unfunded.
Centers for Independent Living: $200 million for state formula grants to help individuals with disabilities continue to live in their communities.
AmeriCorps Programs: $200 million to put approximately 16,000 additional AmeriCorps members to work doing national service, meeting needs of vulnerable populations and communities during the recession.