Looking Back at ARRA – 5 Years Later

–by Rae Tamblyn, Research & Communications Analyst —

Two days ago, February 17, 2014, marked the 5th year anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. George Zornick, a reporter for The Nation, wrote an excellent opinion piece, claiming “the stimulus act was a success — and we need another.” Zornick notes that, per research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the “bill kept nearly 6 million people out of poverty in 2009 alone”, and “at the end of 2010, there were approximately 2.5 million more jobs in the country that wouldn’t have existed without the stimulus.”

As Zornick noted, ARRA funding provided a temporary boost in funding and helped keep poverty levels nationwide from dropping to unprecedented levels during the economic hardship. The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) ARRA funds enabled the network of Community Action Agencies to bolster economic recovery in communities throughout the country through job retention and creation, as well as services for families suffering economic hardship caused by the recession. CSBG ranked in the top 20 out of 200 federal programs in ARRA job creation for all five quarters in which it had funding.

The Weatherization Assistance  Program (WAP) network, in spite of having to address early implementation issues such as compliance with Davis Bacon prevailing wage requirements, successfully weatherized more than a million homes during the ARRA period.  More than 800,000 homes were weatherized with ARRA funds alone, some 200,000 more than initial projections. Throughout the ARRA time period, WAP consistently ranked in the top 7 or 8 job producers, attributing over 15,000 FTEs to the ARRA WAP funding at its peak. Additionally, the ARRA WAP funding enabled several other innovative projects to advance WAP for years to come, including the Weatherization Plus Health initiative, the expansion and accreditation of Weatherization training centers, the development of the Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project, and the technical and programmatic advancement of multi-family weatherization.

The WAP and CSBG Networks use their knowledge of local community needs and rapidly created new initiatives to address critical community problems. ARRA funded projects and efforts resulted in a double bottom line return by improving communities and providing income, safety, and dignity for unemployed Americans, and by enabling implantation of innovative initiatives designed to continue efforts to support low-income Americans after the expiration of the act’s funds. We at NASCSP want to highlight the impact of the CSBG and WAP Networks nationwide, whose dedication, innovation, and ability to produce rapid results with the short funding frame produced incredible results.

For additional information on the impact of ARRA funding, visit https://nascsp.org/CSBG/686/ARRA-Information.aspx?iHt=16 and http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/09/28/39115/federal-weatherization-program-a-winner-on-all-counts/