The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $6.4 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Authority for public housing improvements as part of a $1.9 billion package of assistance to public housing authorities throughout the nation, HUD announced Tuesday.
“While this funding will certainly help housing authorities address long-standing capital improvements, it only scratches the surface in addressing the deep backlog we’re seeing across the country,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in Tuesday’s statement.
The money is for local housing agencies to make major, large-scale improvements to public housing units and comes from HUD’s Capital Fund Program, according to the department. It can be used to make large-scale improvements, such as new roofs, and to make energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.
Nationwide, housing authorities "need nearly $26 billion to keep these homes safe and decent for families," Donovan said, characterizing this week’s award of $1.9 billion as a downpayment toward that goal.
Officials at the V.I. Housing Authority said Wednesday they had not yet received notice of the award and would withhold comment until they received official notice.
A recent HUD study found the nation’s 1.2 million public housing units are facing an estimated $25.6 billion in large scale repairs, such as replacing roofs, updating plumbing and electrical systems and increasing energy efficiency, according to HUD’s statement. This study updates a 1998 analysis and includes costs to address overdue repairs, accessibility improvements for disabled residents, lead abatement, and water and energy conservation that would make the homes more cost effective and energy efficient, according to HUD.