The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 29, 2009

W.Va. gets $16.5 million for housing

From Staff Reports

West Virginia is getting $16.5 million in this year’s federal stimulus package to jump-start affordable housing projects, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., announced Wednesday.

Money for the housing was provided through the $2.25 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, allowing state finance agencies to resume rental housing projects in all 50 states.

“This money will re-energize the construction industry and provide for the production of thousands of housing units stalled by the current recession,” Byrd said.

“Not only will the funding allow those who are less fortunate to afford a roof over their heads, but it will create jobs across West Virginia — especially in the construction industry, which has been hit hard in these tough economic times.”

Rep. Nick Rahall, also D-W.Va., said lower income families are feeling the squeeze in a struggling economy.

“Not only do we know what having a home means to West Virginia families, but we also recognize that every cent we spend for affordable housing is an investment in our local economics and stronger communities,” he said.

Normally, tax credits provide an incentive for investors to provide developers with cash to build multi-family rental housing for low-income families.

Yet, as the credit market shrinks, traditional investors have been reluctant to invest, and the value of tax credits has fallen, leaving some 1,000 projects in limbo.

“Housing is a basic need that every American citizen has a right to obtain,” Byrd said.

“This funding will promote the development of housing for those that need it most,”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, also D-W.Va., said the money will lead to more homes for families in need.

“This will help spur housing construction, create jobs and help strengthen our local communities, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

“This money comes at a good time and I hope it is put to use quickly.”