Last week, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded almost $1.8 billion to public housing authorities across the nation. All 50 states, as well U.S. territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, received funding to help make large-scale improvements to the 1.1 million public housing units in the nation.
The federal government has been investing billions in the development and maintenance of public housing for over 75 years. Despite the flow of funding, the nation continually loses about 10,000 public housing units per year, chiefly because they fall into disrepair. According to a HUD study from 2011, the 1.1 million public housing units in the nation require $25.6 billion in massive repairs to make the housing both economically sustainable and habitable.
What’s more, the staggering annual loss has created a situation where, according to census data from 2012,there is only one home for every 2.3 U.S. citizens.
HUD’s Capital Fund Program is providing these new grants to thousands of public housing authorities to help them repair, renovate, and modernize their communities’ public housing. The funding is intended for large scale projects, such as improving old buildings’ energy efficiency, rewiring electrical systems, or replacing old, broken roofs. Basically, to combat units’ disrepair and staunch the loss of so many public housing units.
HUD awarded Michigan with nearly $31 million, and the Detroit Housing Commission is taking a chunk of over $8 million from that sum. In the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy last summer, such funding could prove crucial to the city’s survival. However, whether the funding proves to truly help the city recover or if it’s just a drop in the bucket will take time.
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said, “While the funding we announce today will never be enough to meet the tremendous backlog of capital needs, HUD will be working closely with the Congress to expand efforts to generate approximately $6 billion in private investment for the recapitalization of public housing.”