As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to create jobs and ease pressures on the housing market, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced $20.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to spur the development of affordable housing units in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"Today’s announcement of housing funds demonstrates how the Recovery Act is putting our nation on the path to economic stability, one community at a time," said Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin. "This initiative will help spur construction and development, create much needed jobs, and increase the availability of affordable housing for families around the country."
The labor and housing crises in this country are deeply inter-connected. Since their peak level at the beginning of 2006, housing starts have fallen almost 80 percent. Houses currently under construction are at a 13-year low, down more than 60 percent from the peak in the first quarter of 2006. This collapse has led to severe job losses in the residential building and specialty trades sector related to housing, with employment down by nearly one-third — a loss of over one million jobs. Such losses not only indicate significant problems in the residential construction sector, but also suggest that the need for affordable housing has risen markedly during the recession.
In response, the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been implementing new efforts designed to help families while providing important assistance to homebuilders. Specifically, Treasury has launched an innovative program that will provide more than $3 billion from the Recovery Act to put people to work building quality, affordable housing for individuals and families affected by the current crisis.
The Treasury Department will work with state housing agencies such as the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority to jump start the development or renovation of qualified affordable housing for families across the country. Under this program, the Virgin Islands Housing Fianance Authority will be empowered to construct affordable housing developments throughout the Territory.