Access to affordable housing is a challenge facing communities across the country. But the Recovery Act is helping our nation meet that challenge head on by providing states with cash to help them finance low-income housing construction at a time when too many projects would otherwise be stalled. These projects are helping revitalize communities through both the creation of new affordable housing developments and the tens of thousands of jobs being created to build them.
Yesterday, I joined D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, officials from the D.C. office of Housing and Community Development, representatives of Vida Senior Residences – and even some of the building’s future residents – to break ground on an affordable housing development made possible with more than $6.8 million in Recovery Act funding. When it’s complete, The Vida Senior Residences at Brightwood in Washington, DC will provide 36 affordable apartments for low-income seniors. And while it’s under construction, this project will create an estimated 55 full-time construction jobs.
The majority of the funding for this Vida project came from an innovative program launched by the Treasury Department in May of 2009. Under section 1602 of the Recovery Act, Treasury provides payments in lieu of tax credits to state housing agencies to jumpstart the development or renovation of qualified affordable housing for families across the country. To date, Treasury has awarded nearly $5.5 billion in section 1602 funds to state housing authorities in 49 states and five U.S. territories. Upon receiving notice of these allocations, states manage a competitive process to make sub-awards and disburse funds to qualified developers.
In conjunction with this event, Treasury released a new report (pdf) yesterday showing that, through June 30, states have awarded more than $4.1 billion in Recovery Act funds to provide affordable housing, and that this funding has saved or created more than 80,000 jobs building or rehabilitating those housing units. Mayor Fenty noted that, with support from Treasury and the Recovery Act, the District of Columbia has created 7,510 new units of affordable housing and preserved over 4,600 units since 2007.
The Treasury report released yesterday also shows that state housing authorities have leveraged these sub-awards with financing from private investors and other federal programs to fund the construction or rehabilitation of more than 57,000 housing units – more than 53,000 of which are for low-income residents.
This Recovery Act program is helping to not only create new jobs, but improve the long-term strength of our communities. These are exactly the type of investments we need to make in order to continue the momentum of this recovery and lay the groundwork for future prosperity.
Rosie Rios is Treasurer of the United States