Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, introduced the Project Rebuild Act of 2013 on Thursday afternoon. This legislation would provide funding for the rehabilitation of foreclosed and abandoned properties, helping to prevent the deterioration of neighborhoods which leads to plummeting housing prices and lower quality of life for residents.
The new legislation builds on the success of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), authored by Congresswoman Waters and enacted over stiff opposition by the Bush administration before being signed into law as part of the Housing and Economic Opportunity Act of 2008. NSP was designed to address a glut of abandoned and foreclosed properties across the country which devastated communities by dragging down property values, increasing municipal fire and police costs, and causing the critical loss of property tax revenue. Since 2008, NSP has disbursed $7 billion to communities across the country, successfully rehabilitating over 100,000 units of housing and supporting 93,000 jobs.
Project Rebuild is a cornerstone of the American Jobs Act, President Obama's plan to put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing our communities. It would disburse an additional $15 billion in competitive grant funding over the next three years, support an estimated 191,000 jobs and treat at least 150,000 properties across all 50 states.
Ranking Member Waters' Project Rebuild legislation would expand the size and the scope of NSP by making foreclosed, abandoned, or vacant commercial, as well as residential properties, eligible for formula and competitive grant rehabilitation and redevelopment funding. Project Rebuild will also make funding available for the establishment and operation of land banks, as well as the demolition of blighted structures.
In introducing this legislation, Ranking Member Waters said, "Foreclosures are not only a tragedy for the families that lose their homes, they are a calamity for entire neighborhoods. Foreclosed properties are often boarded up, stripped, and vandalized, beginning the process of turning decent communities into blighted ones. Foreclosures cause housing prices to drop, hurting other homeowners as well as entire cities and towns. We should make every effort to help families avoid foreclosure -- but when foreclosures occur we should do everything in our power to try to minimize more widespread, damaging effects."
"Project Rebuild will help stabilize neighborhoods and reverse the rapid decline of our cities and towns," said Waters. "It will do exactly what its name says -- it will help rebuild communities that are suffering from the after-effects of the financial crisis. And because the housing market recovery continues to be extremely fragile, Project Rebuild is an essential part of maintaining this recovery and helping to bring our economy back. Project Rebuild is based on a proven model and it deserves widespread, bipartisan support."
The following members of Congress are original cosponsors of the legislation: Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Donna M. Christensen David Cicilline, Emanuel Cleaver, James Clyburn, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Alcee Hastings, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Donald Payne, Cedric Richmond, David Scott, Terri Sewell, Bennie Thompson, Marc Veasey, Mel Watt and Frederica Wilson.