in Houston, Texas
Texas’ $41.5 million federal stimulus program for homeless costs $219K per job
Monday, Oct 24, 2011, 11:01AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

A $7 million pool of stimulus money helped stave off homelessness for more than 4,000 people in Tarrant County, giving social service officials plenty of additional work filing stacks of state and federal paperwork.

While state officials praised the way the money was spent in the Fort Worth and Arlington area, some local officials are pleased the ordeal of the most transparent and accountable federal programs in history, as Vice President Joe Biden dubbed them, are over.

"In hindsight, I wish we had never done it," one anonymous official told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
for its story today.

The story does not assess the overall economic impact or the jobs created in the area by the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program, the primary reasons Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act more than 2 ½ years ago.

According to the state Comptroller, the program, administered through the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, received $41.5 million. The program has so far spent $33.4 million and created 152 jobs or $219,736 on each job created, slightly higher than the roughly $205,000 spent on each job overall in the stimulus program in Texas.

With the program winding down and assuming no additional workers will be hired, when the entire $41.5 million grant is spent, the cost of each of those jobs will rise to $273,026.

In addition to confusing, rigid federal rules, delays in reimbursements and penalties for clerical mistakes, the story says the program had trouble keeping track of how effective the help was for the clients who received  it.

Texas Watchdog has tracked these and other problems with stimulus programs in Texas, including instances of fraud and mismanagement.

By any measure, the stimulus has not been a permanent solution and without more federal stimulating Tarrant County Homeless Coalition expects evictions to increase by 9 percent in the coming year, Cindy Crain, executive director of the coalition, says.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user Jeff Hester, used via a Creative Commons license.
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