03.07.12

Leahy Is Part Of New Effort To Help Communities Flip Vacant Homes And Commercial Buildings To Accelerate Rebound Of Real Estate Markets, Spurring Economic Recovery

(WEDNESDAY, March 7) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has joined in offering new legislation to breathe new life into homes and businesses made vacant by foreclosures.  Leahy is an original cosponsor of the Project Rebuild Act, introduced in the Senate this week by Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

Leahy said, “Vacant homes and businesses are a drag on entire neighborhoods and communities. Abandoned buildings are a foot on the brake pedal, depressing home and commercial property values and slowing the economic recovery.  Getting these vacant buildings back into productive use is one of the keys to rejuvenating our economy.  These investments would turn the liabilities of abandoned buildings into assets for their communities, helping our housing market to rebound from the slump and driving job creation and economic development.”

A targeted effort to help revitalize both residential and commercial buildings that have been abandoned through foreclosure, the new bill would provide $15 billion in pinpoint assistance to renovate vacant homes and businesses.  Modeled on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) successful Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the bill would direct about $10 billion to states, cities and nonprofit organizations through a similar funding formula.  Another $5 billion would be distributed through new competitive grants.

Project Rebuild has been hailed as the next generation of the NSP, broadening the definition of eligible uses for federal dollars under the law for commercial projects and establishing a $20 million baseline of funding for each state.  This all-state minimum – an approach that Leahy has included in a wide range of other federal programs -- would ensure that small states like Vermont receive a fair share of the $10 billion in funding under the general grant program.  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.

Leahy also worked to include provisions in the legislation to allow the investments to be used to rebuild homes damaged or destroyed during a federally declared disaster such as Hurricane Irene.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) welcomes this new congressional effort by Congress to bolster communities through increased renovation and renewal efforts.   HUD officials estimate that Project Rebuild would create more than 190,000 jobs and would be used to renovate 150,000 properties nationwide.

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