Archived Story

Grant helps WHS pay for improvements

Published 7:29pm Monday, August 12, 2013

The Washington Housing Authority is the recipient of a $498,851 grant to pay for large-scale improvements to its public-housing units.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is among $48,626,554 in grants awarded to housing authorities in North Carolina. The grants are provided through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which provides funding annually to all public housing authorities to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing in their communities. The authorities use the funding to do large-scale improvements to the housing such as new roofs or to make energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.

The grant is awarded annually to help pay for general upkeep and repairs, said Marc Recko, executive director of the Washington Housing Authority.

“It’s for improvements to the properties we have. That’s a yearly Capital Fund grant. If you think of a reserve for replacement in the private sector, it’s kind of our allotment to improve the properties over time,” Recko said Monday. “It comes out to about $1,300 per unit for the year. … We’re doing quite a bit of work every year.”

The authority owns and manages 383 housing units in Washington.

 “This funding is critical for housing authorities to maintain and improve public housing conditions for their residents,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a news release. “However, with a significant repair backlog, I am encouraged by new, innovative long-term solutions HUD is exploring that can be combined with this funding to not only protect and preserve this housing for the next generation, but to also build the quality infrastructure necessary for families to thrive.”

Capital Fund grants are awarded each year to the nation’s approximately 3,100 public housing agencies through a formula that considers number, type and age of units in a community. Eligible uses for this funding include development, financing and modernization of the public housing units as well as management improvements at the public housing authority.

“Housing authorities in North Carolina count on this funding to maintain and improve their public housing for many families, especially the most vulnerable – our seniors,” said HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Ed Jennings Jr. “HUD is currently taking bold steps to preserve this affordable housing.”

Over the past 75 years, the federal government has been working and investing billions of dollars in developing and maintaining public and multifamily housing, including providing critical support through the Capital Fund grants announced today. Still, the nation continues to lose approximately 10,000 public housing units annually, primarily due to disrepair. In 2011, HUD released “Capital Needs in the Public Housing Program,” a study that estimated the capital needs in the public housing stock in the U.S. The study found the nation’s 1.2 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.

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