Monday, March 5, 2012
Reed Introduces Project Rebuild Act to Help Turnaround Vacant Homes and Businesses
New initiative could provide $33 million for RI to create jobs overhauling distressed neighborhoods and commercial properties
PROVIDENCE, RI - In an effort to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods, and rehab vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined officials from Rhode Island’s Office of Housing and Community Development; Rhode Island Housing; HousingWorks RI; and SWAP Inc. (Stop Wasting Abandoned Property) to lay out a another effort new plan to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods, and rehab vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses.
This week, Senator Reed is introducing the Project Rebuild Act, legislation that would provide $15 billion in targeted assistance to renovate vacant residential and commercial properties and help communities recover from the foreclosure crisis. Under Reed’s bill, about $10 billion would be directed to states, cities, and non-profits through a formula modeled after the successful Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and $5 billion would be distributed through new competitive grants.
“Project Rebuild is a smart investment in strengthening our communities, putting more construction workers back to work, and bolstering the economy,” said Reed, a senior member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. “This initiative will provide a flexible source of funding to help local communities leverage federal dollars to effectively address vacant and blighted properties in their areas. House by house, block by block, we can fight back against foreclosure.”
Expanding on the bipartisan Neighborhood Stabilization Plan, the Project Rebuild Act would offer new grants for fixing up vacant commercial properties and strives to complement the abilities of private developers. It would also increase support for “land banking.” Land banks work with communities to buy, hold, and redevelop distressed properties as part of a long-term redevelopment strategy. Reed’s bill seeks to help more communities utilize successful land bank models and would provide additional resources for Rhode Island Housing’s Land Bank.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates Project Rebuild would create over 190,000 jobs and be used to renovate 150,000 properties nationwide.
Each state will receive a minimum of $20 million of the $10 billion in formula funds. Additional funds will be targeted to areas with home foreclosures, homes in default or delinquency, and other factors determined by HUD, such as unemployment, commercial foreclosures, and other economic conditions.
HUD estimates that Rhode Island could receive $33 million in Project Rebuild formula funding, as well as additional funding through the competitive grant process.
“Using proven strategies, Project Rebuild will help cities and towns redevelop vacant properties and revitalize neighborhoods and business districts. Expanding this successful program can help create more jobs in Rhode Island and accelerate economic recovery,” said Reed, who helped craft earlier housing legislation allocating the nearly $7 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization funding. Additionally, as part of his efforts in writing the Wall Street Reform law, Reed secured a provision to ensure that the final round of NSP funding had a small state minimum so that Rhode Island would receive funding. As a result of Reed’s efforts, Rhode Island received an additional $6.3 million in NSP funds, for a total of about $26 million to help local communities throughout Rhode Island acquire, redevelop, or demolish foreclosed properties.
Today’s event was held at 367 Friendship Street, where SWAP Inc., a non-profit community development agency, recently renovated a dilapidated historic home that was foreclosed upon into new affordable rental housing. The renovations were financed with a variety of federal, state, and local funds, including NSP funding, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal Historic Tax Credits, Building Homes RI funds, and several other sources. The property is near other homes renovated by SWAP Inc. The project architect is David Presbrey Architects of Providence and the contractor is the Stand Corporation of Warwick, Rhode Island.