Public Housing Stimulus Funding: A Report on the Economic Impact of Recovery Act Capital Improvements

Date Published: 
October 16th, 2017

Executive Summary

Public housing occupies a unique and essential place on the affordable housing spectrum. It is home to about 2.2 million lowincome families, seniors and people with disabilities. A multibillion dollar asset, public housing authorities’ (PHAs) spending on operations and capital improvements also generates significant economic activity.

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the Recovery Act, which included $4 billion in public housing capital funds. A significant reason for that provision was the finding from a 2007 Econsult study -- as cited in language accompanying the legislation – that every dollar that public housing agencies spend on capital and maintenance produces $2.12 in local economic activity.

In addition to providing badly needed funding to housing agencies across the country, this investment provided an opportunity to build on the 2007 report by examining the impact of large-scale capital spending on the national economy. While the 2007 study assessed the local and regional economic impact of capital repairs and maintenance spending by PHAs, this study focuses on the national economic impact of Recovery Act capital spending by PHAs. The report also measures the long-term physical and operating impact on the public housing portfolios of 20 agencies. The study accomplishes this by using data provided by these agencies on the types of projects being completed, the number of jobs being created, and the estimated impact on utilities consumption and spending.

PHAs spent the money quickly, ahead of a shorter than normal obligation period, despite additional reporting requirements and regulations regarding the use of the funds. They created thousands of jobs, brought thousands of new or rehabbed units online and leveraged billions more in additional funds.

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