Good stimulus: Federal recovery dollars turn public housing green

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Skeptics have had it in for the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved by President Barack Obama and Congress earlier this year. But critics need look no further for a primer on what well-spent stimulus dollars look like than Prospect Terrace, a 94-unit public housing complex in East Pittsburgh.

Thanks to a $4.4 million grant for "green renovation," Prospect Terrace will soon ditch its aging boilers and undergo a conversion to a geothermal water system. Across the nation, $4 billion and $600 million in competitive grants have been allocated in the stimulus for upgrading public housing so the units are environmentally friendly.

Last Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan visited Prospect to deliver the good news in person. At least 175 construction jobs will be created by the project. When the work is completed in two years, energy costs will be reduced by at least 50 percent if similar results at Dalton's Edge, a housing facility in Brackenridge and Tarentum, are any indication.

Stimulus money doesn't cover all of the $7.6 million in renovations at Prospect Terrace; the remainder will come from county funds. But given the jobs today and the savings in energy costs tomorrow, it's hard to imagine a better use of federal stimulus dollars.


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