U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials announced Friday an award of $5.9 million in Capital Fund program money to the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, funds that can be used to complete large-scale improvements in housing communities across the territory.
HUD’s Capital Fund Program offers annual funding to approximately 3,100 public housing authorities across the country to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing in their communities, according to a federal news release. “These housing authorities use the funding to complete large-scale improvements such as replacing roofs or making energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.”
HUD officials said the award aligns with the goals of President Barack Obama’s administration to provide residents with “decent, safe and sanitary housing” and housing authorities across the nation the ability to meet the growing demand for affordable rental housing. Obama’s Rental Assistance Demonstration strategy goes hand in hand with HUD’s Capital Fund program as it leverages public and private funding to make critical housing improvements, according to the release.
“HUD has a responsibility to provide public housing residents with a quality and safe roof over their heads,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in Friday’s statement. “This funding, in addition to assistance from the private sector through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, will help housing authorities address longstanding capital improvements and preserve and enhance America’s affordable housing.”
Officials said the funding is also important in helping public housing agencies across the nation address a backlog of capital needs.
“It is a pivotal tool to help them provide the best housing possible for their resident,” HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Ed Jennings Jr. said in the release.
In 2011, HUD released an independent study that took a look at the capital housing needs in the nation and found that the nation’s 1.1 million public housing units are facing an estimated $25.6 billion in large-scale repairs. Unlike routine maintenance, capital needs are extensive improvements required to make the housing decent and economically sustainable, such as replacing roofs or updating plumbing and electrical systems to increase energy efficiency, according to Friday’s statement.
Since Congress authorized the RAD demonstration in November of 2011, early results show it is generating significant additional capital for public and assisted housing.
HUD has made awards to 60,000 public and assisted housing units in more than 340 different projects across the country. Through these awards, housing authorities have proposed to generate approximately $3 billion in capital repairs and to support local jobs, the release said.