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Jeffrey Simon

Jeffrey Simon

Director, MA Recovery & Reinvestment Office

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Blessedsacrament2 Buried in The Boston Globe last week was a story that highlights everything that is right with the stimulus program.

Titled, A Rental Revival , the article discusses the affordable housing “boom” that has struck the Greater Boston area and writer Ted Seifer credits the stimulus program as well as other sources for this revival: “Dead in their tracks just two years ago because of the financial crisis, affordable housing projects are underway again, thanks to an infusion of federal stimulus funds and the return of banks and other real estate investors that had been the traditional financiers of such developments.”

That infusion amounts to over $170 million in stimulus funds for affordable housing and clearly it’s very Blessedsacrament3 needed, as demonstrated by Seifer’s quote by Richard Thal, the executive director of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, which develops affordable housing and economic opportunity initiatives in the area. The Corporation is building two low-income apartment buildings in Jamaica Plain. “The demand has been staggering,” Thal is quoted as saying in the article.

The article trumpets the fact that real estate developers are no longer as leery of these projects, but it is that “staggering demand” that Thal mentions that is really the main takeaway here.

The fact is that affordable projects that need to be built. Many of these are projects that have been stalled for years due to lack of funds, not demand –are being built with the help of stimulus awards. According to the most recent numbers, 1,635 affordable housing units have been built across the state under the stimulus program.

Wb_yolanda People across the state need places to live and the stimulus program is ensuring that many of them can afford to have roofs over their heads.

But there’s more. These housing projects have created jobs for many people – especially in the construction industry which was hard hit by the recession. In fact under two of the stimulus program’s housing initiatives — the Tax Credit Assistance Program and the Low Income Housing grants in Lieu of Tax Credits — 3,178 people have received a paycheck for working on these projects.

And there’s even more. These projects have secondary impacts that often don’t get noticed. I’m referring to the window suppliers, the lumber yards, the contractors needed to move the dirt, the coffee shop near the site – I could go on and on. One of the real strengths of the stimulus program is its ability to create a program such as this – one that answers an important housing need and produces real job opportunities.

These are all excellent projects that have been stalled due to the recession.  I’m glad we can work with real estate developers to get them going, to create great homes and to put people back to work.

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