U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan recently awarded nearly $1.8 billion to public housing authorities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The funds will allow these agencies to make major large-scale improvements to their public housing units, the organization announced.
According to HUD, these grants are provided through the organization’s Capital Fund Program, which provides annual funding to all public housing authorities to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing in their communities. This funding can be used to make large-scale improvements such as new roofs and to make energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.
“This funding will help housing authorities address long-standing capital improvements, but it only scratches the surface in addressing the deep backlog we’re seeing across the country,” says Donovan. “Today, we are closer to helping housing authorities and our private sector partners undertake their capital needs over the long haul. With the passage of HUD’s 2012 budget, Congress gave HUD the go-ahead for a new, comprehensive and critical demonstration tool that we believe will help preserve and enhance America’s affordable housing, including public housing.”
In November 2011, Congress gave HUD the approval to test a comprehensive tool to preserve public housing and other HUD-assistant housing. Congress authorized HUD to begin a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) as part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy to keep these public and other HUD affordable homes on firm financial footing. Public housing authorities need nearly $26 billion to keep these homes safe and decent for families. But given our budget realities, HUD proposed this innovative way to confront the decline of the nation’s public and affordable housing stock.
In FY 2012, RAD will enable public housing authorities and owners to continue to make standard life-cycle improvements to their inventory and modernize or replace obsolete units to stem the loss of stock from private sector partners choosing to opt-out of affordable housing programs. The demonstration will bring more than 60,000 properties into a reliable, long term, project-based rental assistance contract— and allow public housing authorities to raise more than $6.1 billion in private financing to reduce the large backlog of capital repair needs and in the process, support significant job creation in communities across the country.
Sandra B. Henriquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, added, “We see Congress’ decision to allow this demonstration to begin as a victory, not only for HUD, but for countless communities that desperately want to improve their public housing and other affordable housing, as well as a victory for families who need quality housing they can afford and who want more options on where they might choose to live.”
Last year, HUD released Capital Needs in the Public Housing Program, a study that updated the national estimate of capital needs in the public housing stock in the U.S. The study found the nation’s 1.2 million public housing units are facing an estimated $25.6 billion in much-needed large scale repairs. Unlike routine maintenance, capital needs are the large-scale improvements required to make the housing decent and economically sustainable, such as replacing roofs or updating plumbing and electrical systems to increase energy efficiency. This study updates a 1998 analysis and includes costs to address overdue repairs, accessibility improvements for disabled residents, lead abatement, and water and energy conservation that would make the homes more cost effective and energy efficient.
Over the last 75 years, the federal government has invested billions in the development and maintenance of public and multifamily housing – including providing critical support through HUD’s Capital Fund, the grants announced today. Still, the nation continues to lose thousands of public housing units annually, primarily due to disrepair. To protect the considerable federal investment and respond to the growing demand for affordable rental housing, the Obama Administration proposed RAD. The details of the demonstration’s timeline and application are being prepared and HUD expects to issue a notice for public comment in the coming months.