On Feb. 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed off on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a $787 billion economic stimulus package that was passed by the House and Senate on Feb. 13. Read details here and here. Also on Feb. 17, the White House launched a Web site that allows people to track where the stimulus package money is being spent: www.recovery.gov.
Overall, the housing and architecture industries have voiced support for the infrastructure, housing, green building, and energy efficiency measures—which will result in job creation throughout the design and construction industry—as well as home buyer tax credits laid out in the stimulus package.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued a statement of support for the then-unsigned plan on Feb. 15, commending Congress for considering the recommendations of design professionals to include provisions for energy-efficient buildings, funding for affordable housing projects, mass transit investments, tax relief for struggling companies, and funding for infrastructure projects that will employ engineers, architects, and construction companies. However, the AIA also urged the government to consider the stimulus package a starting point. Read the AIA's statement here.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) voiced its support of the signed bill on Feb. 16. While noting that a larger home buyer tax credit (larger than the $8,000 first-time buyer credit in effect until Dec. 1, 2009) would spur housing demand and jump-start the economy, the NAHB acknowledged that the law's provisions should get housing and the economy moving in the right direction. According to NAHB chairman Joe Robson, the organization will work with the government to build on the bill's provisions to address the further needs of the housing industry and the economy. Read the article in Nation's Building News Online.
Though the stimulus package went through several changes during its three-month development period, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) says its support has been unwavering. A pet provision for green school construction was removed during Senate and House deliberations, and reinserted under a more general funding section. The USGBC's director of advocacy and public policy, Jason Hartke, notes that USGBC has consistently lobbied for green building provisions to be included in the package "as a pathway for helping spur job creation, energy savings, and saving money," he says. "We believe the package has done a good job of putting a down payment on the broader green economy, but also makes sure that green building is a significant part of that."
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analyzed the stimulus package's provisions for infrastructure and construction investment, totaling $135 billion, to estimate the number of jobs it will create. According to AGC's chief economist Ken Simonson, the new law will create or save nearly two million jobs over the next two years in construction and related fields, as well as throughout the broader economy. AGC's leadership voiced support for the legislation, noting that it will positively impact construction businesses and their workers nationwide, as well as the general population and other businesses.