February 26th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Show who the money?

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Steve Turnham
CNN Producer

It was a banner headline from the Obama Housing Department:


The money, according to HUD, is going out immediately to states in desperate need of fast cash to repair deteriorating public housing and other big projects.

But the cash isn't all that fast after all. What HUD actually did was to notify local branches that they could start applying for the money. Hiring contractors to catch up on years of neglected maintenance won't take place for at least a month, after the bids go out and the contracts are approved.

As for many of the other big "shovel ready" projects, there are environmental impact studies to be done, public hearings to be held, and local legislative calendars to consider.

There are a few examples of recovery money actually being spent: jobless people in New Hampshire get $25 more a week in their unemployment checks starting now, and some local school boards have managed to avoid or minimize layoffs in anticipation of federal dollars. Realtors report a "buzz" about new money for first time home buyers, but none yet lining up to snap up all those empty foreclosed homes.

There is however one group of workers who are incredibly busy all of a sudden- all those consultants who advise state and local governments how best to tailor their programs to qualify for the federal billions.

And by "consultants" we mean lobbyists, who understand how the federal bureaucracy works and know exactly how to apply for this grant or that program. Their shovels are already out, digging through the rules of the recovery, so they in turn can shovel the money back to the towns and cities that really need it. For a fee, of course.

Filed under: Economy • Raw Politics • The Buzz
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Nothing from the government ever comes fast. The recession hopefully will be history before the government really gets rolling on this – remember how long it took them to help with Katrina? As good as Obama's intentions are I'm not sure even he can speed government up.

    February 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  2. Jeannie Brooks

    To Paul Stevens
    I'm deeply sorry for your economic woes.
    While I'm just a citizen trying to pay attention to the news on the new mortgage help, and no expert, I do believe there is a program in the Housing Affordability and Stabilization Act which Obama signed recently which is addressed to ppl such as yourself. I heard HUD Sec Shaun Donovan, who is in charge of this program, say so this am on C-Span. It goes into effect 3/4/09; there will,of course,be a glut of calls but the hotline is 888-995-HOPE. Also see HUD.gov website. There may be a way to re-structure your pay'ts to make them affordable while you may be on unemployment. Also, keep in mind, Medicaid benefits have been extended to include unemployed such as yourself. The gov't knows there are many falling into financial trouble due to the economic crisis, and they intend to help. The Obama admin. knows the more ppl we can keep in their homes and financially viable, the better off the whole country is. Best of luck and keep faith.

    February 26, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  3. Mari, Salt Lake City

    Good article Gary! I agree that we need to have the money flowing to needy communities. IF HUD hires unemployed construction workers to fix up our crumbling public housing, we can get some families whom have lost their homes due to job lose off the streets, out of their cars! And every construction worker employed, will help the local coffee shop or diner when they eat there; and the construction workers family can afford to shop at Target; so Target can hire more cashiers, stock people, etc., etc. Its a snowball effect!

    Lastly I want to say........


    February 26, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  4. G. Martinez

    The Bush crew gave tax payer dollars to their friends in the banking industry. Now these bankers foreclose on the very families that through their taxes have allowed these banks to give large bonuses to their executives. The last administration should be ashamed of the legacy of corruption and greed they leave behind.

    I have a great deal of hope for our new president.

    I just hope the American people can finally see through the smoke and mirrors that politicians on both sides put up in order to justify their corrupt practices.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  5. Paul Stevens

    I've heard of help for all the mortgage holders of Freddie/Fannie conforming loans Where is the help for all the people who have lost jobs or fallen on though times by no fault of their own who have conventional loans? Banks, credit unions and mortgage companies are making no attempts to refinance or help with loan modifications. Is the only option for these people to file bankruptcy? Help please.

    This is my current situation.

    February 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Arachnae

    The absolutely fastest way to get money into the economy is for the federal government to BUY stuff – especially stuff they've needed a long time and put off buying, like, say, more energy-efficient vehicles. The money enters the economy instantly. But no, the GOP has successfully painted that as 'wasteful'. Incredible.

    February 26, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  7. Neo

    What Earle said. Matter of fact HUD should work a deal out with contractors so that the money can circulate in-state? Or is sub-contracting a job Americans don't do anymore because it pays minimum wage? Sometimes we are out own worst enemy. I also agree with Michael. We def. know the money is available, what's the best use for it, is the question.

    February 26, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  8. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Well, the money is a available--the challenge is---try to get it!

    February 26, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  9. Amy S

    I understand that with such a huge undertaking, progress will take time – but it is frustrating. I wish that somehow, there could be a somewhat immediate influx of funds into local homeless shelters and food pantries in states like Ohio, whose lower income families are really suffering. It's difficult to tell them they have to wait for these programs to start working, when they are just focused on feeding their families and keeping the electricity on this week.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  10. earle,florida

    My only thoughts of horror are to see mexican illegals working these jobs as sub-contractors labor, circumventing the law,and taking more away from the american laborer! Cashing their checks at local Walmart's,and sending the (non-taxed,or minimally tax exemptions) earnings back to Mexico in "Money Transfer( $600 Max.) Checks",and dropping the rest at the cashier checkout. While living in their vans,very comfortably,...on our dime! JMHO

    February 26, 2009 at 9:00 am |