Durbin and Reed Introduce Project Rebuild Act to Help Turn Around Vacant Homes and Businesses
New initiative could provide more than $351 million to help Illinois create jobs overhauling distressed neighborhoods and commercial properties
[WASHINGTON, DC] – In an effort to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods, and rehab vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jack Reed (D-RI) today introduced the Project Rebuild Act to help rehab houses and businesses that have been abandoned through foreclosure. The legislation would provide targeted assistance through both formula funding and new competitive grants to renovate vacant residential and commercial properties. HUD estimates that Illinois could receive $351 million in Project Rebuild formula funding, as well as additional funding through the competitive grant process.
“No one wins when businesses and homes are foreclosed on,” said Durbin. “Not the owners who lose their properties, not the surrounding neighborhood when no one maintains the property, and not the local community when property values drop. The Project Rebuild Act will put Illinoisans back to work helping local governments redevelop and revitalize Main Streets and neighborhoods across our state.”
“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. “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 and accelerate economic recovery.”
Under the bill, about $10 billion would be directed to states, cities, and non-profits through a formula modeled on the successful Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and an additional $5 billion would be available through new competitive grants. 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. Nationwide, HUD estimates Project Rebuild would create over 190,000 jobs and be used to renovate 150,000 properties nationwide.
Cosponsors of the Project Rebuild Act include: Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mark Begich (D-AK).
SUMMARY: THE PROJECT REBUILD ACT
Project Rebuild is designed to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods, and reduce vacancy.
Project Rebuild leverages the success of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) while making critical changes to scale up, address commercial vacancies, and leverage capacity in the private sector.
Project Rebuild proposes a $15 billion allocation: $10 billion for formula allocation, $5 billion for competition.
Project Rebuild is the Next Generation of NSP
Project Rebuild will continue NSP’s proven record of success, but with important modifications. For example:
- It broadens eligible uses to allow commercial projects and other job creating activities, capped at 30 percent.
- Up to 10 percent of formula grants may be used for establishing and operating a jobs program to maintain eligible neighborhood properties.
- Each state will receive a minimum of $20 million of the $10 billion in formula funds.
- Beyond this baseline, 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.
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 would help more communities utilize successful land bank models.
Project Rebuild: Scaling Up Neighborhood Stabilization to Rebuild our Economy
Project Rebuild will provide funding to purchase, rehabilitate, and/or redevelop foreclosed, abandoned, demolished, or vacant properties. Funding can also establish and operate land banks or demolish blighted structures.
Project Rebuild will support an estimated 191,000 jobs and treat at least 150,000 properties across all 50 states.
HUD will announce formula funding allocations within 30 days of Congressional enactment of Project Rebuild, complete the competition, and obligate all funds within 180 days of enactment. Grantees will have three years to spend 100 percent of funding. HUD will establish further benchmarks for expenditures at one year and two years.
Formula funding will go directly to states and entitlement communities across the country. Competitive funds will be available to states, local governments, for-profit entities, non-profit entities and consortia of these entities.
Strict standards of oversight will ensure good stewardship of these funds. HUD will strengthen existing accountability procedures by requiring that grantees have an internal auditor to continually monitor grantee performance to prevent fraud or abuse.
Grantees will be required to provide quarterly progress reports and HUD will recapture funds from underperforming or mismanaged grantees to reallocate those funds to areas with greatest need.
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