The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requested $44.8 billion for their 2013 budget, a 3.2% increase from their current budget. One program that has increased exponentially under HUD’s budget proposal is Project Rebuild.

Project Rebuild was announced in September 2011 as part of the American Jobs Act, and builds upon the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Its goal is to create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods and reduce vacancies. HUD requested $4.65 billion for this program in 2013, and claims Project Rebuild will support 191,000 jobs and help 150,000 properties nationwide. This program has yet to be approved by Congress.

Much of the remainder of the budget ($34.8 billion) is set aside for rental housing assistance for about five million low-income families. This assistance is referred to as  transfers, as opposed to taxes, and of course are part of a modest redistribution of monies to balance society and attempt to abate increasing inequality within our population. Along with these increases, HUD will cut funding slightly to housing programs for people with disabilities and individuals with AIDS, and will increase the minimum rent for HUD-assisted households.

first tuesday take: Project Rebuild’s goals are another attempt to stimulate the economy by providing jobs for the debtor class and rebuilding our infrastructure. first tuesday supports these goals – if they are able to come to fruition.

Project Rebuild looks great on paper, but until HUD’s budget is passed by Congress and actually takes effect, we must approach it with the same degree of skepticism applied to other federal programs aimed at stabilizing the housing market — even then we’re not confident exactly how much good the program will do. Call us cynical, but for other federal homeowner assistance programs that have fallen far short of their stated goals, look no further than the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Re: “Federal budget 2012: HUD seeks funds for Project Rebuild to redevelop housing” from the Washington Post and “Overview of Project Rebuild” from the Department of Housing and Urban Development