February 17, 2016

The Recovery Act, Seven Years Later

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Photo: house with foreclosure  sign.

Seven years ago, this country was in the grips of the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.  As our housing and financial markets were in full retreat, President Obama and the Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an economic stimulus package designed to keep America working and to stop the bleeding in our economy.

As we recall that day seven years ago when President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, we also remember how that landmark legislation impacted the people and places HUD serves.

Preventing/Ending Homelessness

The Recovery Act (ARRA) provided $1.5 Billion through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) which HUD allocated to more than 500 local communities across the country.  Over the three-year life of this program, HPRP ended or prevented homelessness for 1.3 million persons, more than FOUR times original projections.

Beyond the incredible human impact this program had on blunting the possible explosion of family homelessness during the financial crisis, HPRP spawned new coordinated approaches and a national movement toward rapid rehousing, a relatively new intervention to confront the short- and medium-term needs of households struggling to find affordable housing.  The “HPRP experience” laid the foundation for the President’s FY 2017 mandatory budget request to invest $11 billion over the next decade toward ending family homelessness.

Stabilizing Neighborhoods Hard-Hit by Foreclosure

The Recovery Act provided $2 Billion through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to hard-hit communities struggling to reverse the effects of the foreclosure crisis. NSP was created to redevelop hard-hit communities, create jobs, and grow local economies by providing communities with the resources to purchase and rehabilitate vacant homes and convert them to affordable housing. Three years later, 56 grantees bought, rehabilitated and/or demolished nearly 18,000 homes!  In addition, the program assisted families to purchase these properties – in essence, to make these vacant houses homes once again.

Making Multifamily Apartment Buildings Energy Efficient

The Recovery Act’s $250 million Green Retrofit Program (GRP) provided grants and low-cost loans to help the owners of affordable multifamily apartment buildings undertake energy-efficient improvements.  GRP investments helped 221 properties with 19,000 units in 37 states.  An independent evaluation by Bright Power and Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) found this program cut energy costs in 179 of these apartment buildings by an average 18 percent!  It’s estimated these upgrades are saving an estimated $213 for each retrofitted unit every year or $3.1 million dollars per year (including electricity and gas).  In addition, theses upgrades reduced water consumption by 26%, or $95/unit/year.

So, as we look back these seven years, we see the impact these investments have made—not just at a macro-economic level but on a very human scale.

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