We’ve accomplished a lot over the last two years. I just returned from a cabinet meeting with the Vice President at which we discussed the successes of the Recovery Act: we’ve found new ways of doing business, we pioneered collaboration that cultivates efficiency and innovation, and we made certain, American cities are better positioned to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build our competitors.
The Recovery Act is not only putting people back to work today, but also building a foundation for America’s economic future by changing the way government does business.
I explained to the Vice President how HUD has used the Recovery Act to forge collaboration, spark innovation and promote competition – and wanted to share that with all you as well. The collaboration and innovative approaches initiated during the implementation of the Recovery Act have laid the foundation for American cities to lead the way toward winning the future.
Collaboration. Over the last two years, HUD has partnered with the Department of Energy to coordinate the $5 billion in Recovery Act funds to weatherize homes and help American families reduce their energy costs.
Historically, only 8 percent of weatherization efforts have reached multifamily apartments for low-income renters — about one-in-three of which are subsidized by HUD.
But thanks to the Recovery Act, we’re poised to more than double that number. As a result, we now expect about a fifth of the 600,000 homes this program will weatherize by March 2012 to be multifamily apartments – with an investment that saves money for owners and renters today, as well as the taxpayer by paying for itself in the long run.
Innovation. The Recovery Act has also strengthened HUD’s ability to use innovative tools to create better, faster results for families. Indeed, at a moment when we’ve needed it most, the Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program has helped local partners prevent or end homelessness for more than 875,000 people, including about 15,000 veterans.
But its effects have had an equally innovative impact on how the Federal government responds to homelessness — particularly veteran homelessness.
We see this in HUD-VASH, a collaboration between HUD and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with VA’s case management and clinical services. This partnership is critical to ending veterans’ homelessness — but when President Obama took office, it had leased properties to less than 1,200 veterans.
Often, the reason veterans couldn’t use HUD-VASH vouchers was that they couldn’t provide something as simple as a security deposit. The flexible tools provided by the Recovery Act helped them overcome these kinds of obstacles.
By the end of 2010, HUD-VASH had accelerated its pace of housing veterans by nearly 20 times — helping more than 21,000 veterans. And for many of these formerly homeless veterans, the Recovery Act is what made the difference.
Competition. Lastly, the Recovery Act has also allowed HUD to spur competition. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program helps distressed neighborhoods turn abandoned or foreclosed properties into the affordable rental housing families need – and when the Recovery Act funded a second round of neighborhood stabilization funds, we awarded them through a competition to ensure the funds went to the areas with high rates of foreclosure and with the best plans to respond to the crisis.
That led to a cutting edge “First Look” partnership, not among federal agencies — but with five non-profits and major financial institutions to speed the pace communities recover from the foreclosure crisis.
By providing Neighborhood Stabilization grantees an exclusive 12-to-14 day window to evaluate and bid on foreclosed and abandoned properties before they hit the open market, our First Look partner, the National Community Stabilization Trust, helped 188 communities access real estate-owned properties last year alone — saving over $26 million in taxpayer funds, an average discount of nearly 13 percent. And with the Federal government at the table, and those competitive Recovery Act projects getting underway, we expect even better numbers this year, with bigger ripple effects.
These examples barely scratch the surface of how the Recovery Act has changed the way the Federal government does business. Some early results of these efforts–and others–will be featured in a report the Administration will be releasing in the coming weeks about the impact the Recovery Act has had in our nation’s cities.
Whether it’s supporting 50,000 jobs in 40 urban school districts, or allowing Community Health Centers across the country to serve 1.7 million new patients, or jumpstarting the construction of an estimated 125,000 new affordable homes stalled by the economic crisis, the report will detail how the Recovery Act is putting people back to work and laying the foundation we need to win the future.
Achieving that through collaboration, innovation and competition is what the Recovery Act is about. And I’m proud of the role HUD will continue to play, in making sure the effects of this historic investment are felt for many years to come.