COLUMBUS, OH – U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Columbus today to announce new Recovery Act funds to help rebuild communities devastated by the housing and economic crisis. The City of Columbus will receive $23,200,773 in federal funds through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which provides communities with the resources to purchase and rehabilitate vacant homes and convert them to affordable housing.
“Vacant homes have a debilitating effect on neighborhoods and often lead to reduced property values, blight, and neighborhood decay,” Sec. Donovan said. “This Recovery Act funding will help stabilize hard-hit communities in Ohio by turning vacant homes from eyesores into community assets. The Neighborhood Stabilization program is a key part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive approach to address the national housing and economic crisis.”
“These funds are about helping Main Street recover from the economic crisis,” Sen. Brown said. “By rebuilding neighborhoods devastated by the economic crisis, we will improve surrounding property values, create new jobs, and foster long-term economic growth. By putting vacant properties and lots to good use and targeting funds to the hardest-hit communities, we can rebuild our downtowns and strengthen our communities.”
The NSP program was created in 2008 to help communities renovate homes or tear down blighted properties. It is estimated that each dollar in NSP funding has more than twice the economic impact, due to a multiplier effect generated through new jobs and rehabilitated housing. The first wave of funding, in Sep. 2008, was distributed to communities based on need through a formula grant process.
Today’s announcement represents the culmination of a competitive grant process through which states, local governments, non-profits, consortiums, and partners applied for funding aimed at rebuilding local economies. Applicants were required to serve areas with high foreclosure or vacancy rates and awards were based on need, capacity, and soundness of an applicant’s approach. HUD also considered the ability of an applicant to leverage additional funds, utilize energy efficiency/sustainability technologies, and transform neighborhoods. Applicants were required to demonstrate an ability to return at least 100 abandoned or foreclosed units to market or address their destabilizing effects.
Brown is a leading proponent of providing assistance to communities affected by the housing crisis and population loss. He fought for the creation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the continuation of the program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. In Sep. 2008, Brown announced that Ohio communities would receive more than $258 million in NSP funds authorized by the housing bill. In Sep. 2009, Brown wrote to Secretary Donovan in support of Ohio applicants to the second wave of funding through the NSP program.
Brown also introduced the Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act of 2009 with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH0 and Brian Higgins (D-NY). This legislation would create a new, competitive grant program within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) targeted toward cities and metropolitan areas experiencing large-scale property vacancy and abandonment due to long-term employment and population losses.