Public housing authorities are being efficient, effective, and
innovative in spending funds received under the 2009 American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act.)
That act provided $4 billion in
capital funds for public housing authorities --- almost doubling the
most recent annual appropriations.
Three billion was distributed through the existing capital fund formula; $1 billion was provided through competitive grants to:
The competitive grants are funding a number of
innovative projects -- many of which were stuck on drawing boards because
of a lack of funding.
Housing authorities face a roughly $30 billion backlog in capital improvements, and many mixed-financing agreements intended for new and improved projects have been severely impacted by the economic downturn.
According to Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Sandra Henriquez, PHAs have “performed remarkably well” in directing funds to projects that can be undertaken quickly and can create and preserve jobs. By the end of 2009, PHAs had obligated 60% of their formula funds. They were able to do this despite delays in guidance on the Recovery Act’s “Buy American” provisions. Once these issues were resolved, there was a significant increase in obligation and expenditure rates in the last few months of 2009.
The 94% of the PHA capital fund formula grant recipients that successfully submitted third quarter reports showed that they created or retained 11,569 jobs from March through September 2009. The average cost per job is $19,740, demonstrating the cost effectiveness of capital funding as a way to produce jobs and generate a good return on the Recovery Act investment in public housing.
Spring will see another uptick in activity. Warmer temperatures will allow work to resume on projects stalled by winter weather. In addition, since PHAs will have obligated all funds, they will be able devote more time to managing actual work instead of contending with delays from the normal procurement process.
This investment goes well beyond immediate job creation and local spending. As a result of this infusion of funds, PHAs, their residents and communities will see:
Cambridge receives its 5th competitive Recovery Act grant