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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the tag “hud”

HOPE VI Did Not Meet Expectations?

HOPE VI was a HUD program to totally revamp public housing projects with a mixture of public, affordable, market rate housing, economic development, and social programs. The idea was to revitalize communities, offer a better living environment for tenants, and improve outcomes for low income individuals. An article now shows that far fewer housing units were actually completed under HOPE VI than announced. This is probably not surprising since actual financing and construction will bring more accurate results. My concern is that the program spent billions of dollars and did not achieve the results I described above. I worked on the Darst Webbe HOPE VI project here in St. Louis. It razed some bad public housing and significantly reduced crime in the surrounding neighborhoods. I doubt it had any important effects on the public housing residents and has not resulted in significant mixed income housing. Written by Paul Dribin. Attached is the article.

2018

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Study Finds “Selective Memory Planning” by HUD in the HOPE VI Program

A study published in Housing Policy Debate, “Broken Promises or Selective Memory Planning? A National Picture of HOPE VI Plans and Realities” by Lawrence Vale, Shomon Shamsuddin, and Nicholas Kelly finds that significantly fewer housing units, particularly market-rate rental and homeownership units, were developed in HOPE VI projects than were initially announced in HOPE VI award announcements. The study contends that HUD’s monitoring of HOPE VI represented “selective memory planning,” in which policy-makers ignore or erase the memory of initial plans and goals in favor of new plans and goals that are more likely to be achieved.

“Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere” (HOPE VI) was a HUD program to redevelop distressed public housing into mixed income communities with a combination of public, affordable, and market-rate housing for both renters and owners. The study’s authors compared the number of units, unit-type mix, and tenure initially announced in HOPE VI award announcements with estimates later entered into HUD’s administrative system for tracking projects’ progress based on revised plans. They also compared the award announcements with actual housing units completed. The authors conducted interviews with HUD staff to gain insight into their decisions.

The projected number of units in HUD award announcements was 11,600 higher than the revised counts eventually entered into HUD’s administrative system for program tracking. The revised estimates were 10% lower than the proposed units initially announced. The revised estimates of expected market-rate units were 29% lower and the revised estimates of expected homeownership units were 40% lower than the initial award announcements. This finding suggests that public housing agencies (PHAs) found market-rate housing and homeownership more difficult to achieve in HOPE VI projects than initially expected.

If a developer had to lower the expected number of housing units or change the unit-type and tenure mix after an award announcement, the new numbers were recorded in HUD’s administrative system. The system did not record the numbers initially proposed in the award announcement. The result is that it may appear a HOPE VI project produced the proposed number of units, unit-type mix, and tenure when the final outcome was less than what was promised in the initial award announcement.

The authors note that, on the other hand, it is reasonable that expected outcomes expressed in award announcements would change as the PHAs would often put projects out to bid to developers and complete financing after the award was announced. Most housing professionals understand that initial project proposals often change before construction begins because of development complexities. Expectations change as knowledge or circumstances change. On the other hand, residents may not understand this and see award announcements as promises to them and their communities.

HUD essentially “forgot” its initial award announcements, the authors contend. The report suggests that by engaging in selective memory planning, HUD prioritized its accountability to Congress and developers over its accountability to communities by comparing outcomes to revised expectations rather than comparing outcomes to the promises made to the community in the initial announcements.

“Broken Promises or Selective Memory Planning? A National Picture of HOPE VI Plans and Realities

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Inside New York Public Housing

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An excellent New York Times article about the challenges of running the New York City Housing Authority. As some of you know, HUD funding for capital needs has been hugely insufficient to address the needs of older units. Written by Paul Dribin

Children Living in HUD Assisted Housing Have Worse Health Care Outcomes Than Average

The finding comes from research commissioned by HUD. The results to me are discouraging for the following reasons:1. Public health advocates have said that better housing will result in better health care outcomes. That is not the case in this study.2. There must be something in the lifestyle of poor people that results in poorer health. What are the dietary, smoking issues.Here is a synopsis of the report:Does HUD Assistance Affect Child Health Outcomes?July 11, 2018    About 4 million of the 10 million Americans who receive US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assistance are children. How healthy are these children? Housing policymakers and public health professionals increasingly recognize that housing is an important social determinant of health, particularly among children, as research shows that housing can significantly shape their emotional, psychological, and behavioral health and development. To fill the gap in research that previously relied on anecdotal evidence and case studies, a recent HUD study sought to identify the prevalence of health conditions and health care use among HUD-assisted children.The study provided prevalence estimates of the health of children ages 17 and younger in HUD-assisted households with those living in eligible but unassisted households and the general population. HUD assistance was defined as participation in one of HUD’s three primary subsidy programs: public housing, housing choice vouchers, and assisted multifamily housing. The authors linked responses from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over 14 years (1999–2012) to longitudinal HUD administrative data. The study explored differences in demographics, health status, health care use, and learning-related health status among the three groups, but the differences were not tested for statistical significance. The findings have important policy implications that suggest aligning housing assistance programs with health policy to potentially improve cost-effectiveness and health outcomes.Key findings • Most HUD-assisted children were black (52.2 percent) and lived in a single-parent, female-headed household (74.6 percent); 31.9 percent lived in large metropolitan centers. • Although 86.8 percent of HUD-assisted children had insurance coverage through public health insurance programs, they appear to have worse health status than the general population of children. • Most HUD-assisted children (84.4 percent) had a well-child checkup in the past year. Lower rates were reported for unassisted low-income households (80.2 percent) and the general population (76.8 percent). • The percentage of children with unmet medical needs because of unaffordability was similar among HUD-assisted children (3.5 percent) and children in the general population (4.4 percent). • HUD-assisted children (21.2 percent) are more likely to have asthma than children in unassisted, low-income renter households (17.7 percent). • 5 percent of HUD-assisted children had been told by a school or health professional that they had a learning disability.Photo by Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

Ben Carson and Fair Housing Laws

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An editorial from New York Times

HUD is Cutting Back on Fair Housing Enforcement

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The above article was printed in the New York Times today. Secretary Carson has instructed staff not to issue any fair housing investigations at all. As a former HUD staffer, I can say with certainty that the threat of HUD sanctions prompted cities to move on these issues. While we are all focusing on Stormy Daniels, stuff like this happens. Written by Paul Dribin

HUD Failure

This story is not specifically about St. Louis, it is about a failure of HUD that would effect all communities.

I have represented a HUD insured Section 8 project in another part of the country. Their 20 year Section 8 contract is due to expire. HUD requires an analysis called Mark to Market which requires analyzing the rent structure, usually adjusting the rents down and lowering the mortgage. It requires a rent comparability study which is like an appraisal.

HUD used poor comparables in their analysis resulting in the rents being lowered for the project. They used old comperables from when the market was low. I was hired to help appeal to HUD. We lost. As a result the project owners are opting out of affordable housing and turning their project into conventional housing at higher rents.

So HUD’s error which they refused to acknowledge has caused the loss of 62 affordable housing units. This is ironic considering their mission is to preserve it. Something tells me that my situation is not unique. Written by Paul Dribin

The Myth of Pruitt Igoe

At the suggestion of a friend I finally watched the documentary The Myth of Pruitt Igoe. The whole subject is too vast for this one post, but the presentation was excellent. The experience was rather emotional, particularly seeing the testimony of former residents such as Ruby Russell who worked with me at HUD.

The presentation was pretty fair, doing a good job of avoiding simplistic answers. The basic premise is that things such as racism, project design, slum clearance, welfare rules, and so on. Where I believe the presentation was inaccurate was in attributing the problems at Pruitt Igoe to the population loss in St. Louis. While the city suffered population loss, the demand for public housing remained as high as ever with huge waiting lists.

Aside from the flaw of concentrating too many people in high rise buildings, the beginnings of the welfare state played a role. Previously, public housing did not even allow people on welfare to reside in their units. At the time of the development of Pruitt-Igoe, this rule changed and they pretty much let anyone in the project who was poor, regardless of background. The federal government at that time did not provide housing authorities with operating subsidies so all expenses needed to be covered by rent. Maintenance backlogs developed, repairs were not made, and the better tenants moved out.

During my housing career I had the privilege of being a friend and colleague of Tom Costello who was the Executive Director of the St. Louis Housing Authority at the time of the demolition. He has said the authority could simply not keep up with maintenance backlogs. He said George Romney, the Secretary of HUD at the time suggested total demolition. I have also known at former police officer at Pruitt Igoe. He said he would have 65 major cases to investigate every day when he came in.

The story of Pruitt Igoe is a tragedy and symbolized both the end of public housing and modernist architecture. I worked a year at the St. Louis Housing Authority in the late nineties. We received calls every week from people curious about Pruitt-Igoe all over the world. Architects would come on field trips to visit the site as if it was a religious shrine. Everyone needs to view this documentary. Written by Paul Dribin

HUD to Defund Fair Housing Grants in Missouri

Missouri passed a law about six months ago which made filing a discrimination or fair housing complaint more difficult. Many in the know advised against it primarily for moral reasons, but also because of the potential for lawsuits and possibility of listing federal funding. Well, the predictions have come true. HUD has written that if the law is not changed by March 2018 federal funding for fair housing enforcement will be terminated. That is because the state law is no longer “substantially equivalent” to the federal law. It would be just deserts if Amazon opted not to come here due to our redneck ways. Written by Paul Dribin

Vouchers and Housing Policy

Research clearly shows that poor people who move to a more affluent neighborhood do better in life. Unfortunately most affordable housing in St. Louis and elsewhere is constructed in lower income neighborhoods. HUD, under the Obama administration had tried to address this problem.

Up until now, Section 8 fair market rents were set for an entire metropolitan area. Therefore the rent structure in Wellston was the same as in Ladue. On an initial limited basis, HUD is changing the policy and determining fair market rent by zip code, therefore allowing higher rents in more affluent areas. Where tested, the concept has seemed to work.

To be sure, the policy has detractors. Housing authorities complain the policy is too bureaucratic. Housing practitioners are concerned that the policy if fully implemented would drain inner city neighborhoods of population and good tenants. These are both valid issues, but I believe the policy should be tried. The Trump administration unfortunately is eliminating the new rule that would implement it. Written by Paul Dribin

Used of CDBG Funds in St. Louis

The Community Development Block Grant is a program devised by HUD to provide flexible funds to community to meet broad based urban development needs. Cities of over 50,000 people receive the funds on a categorical basis based upon poverty etc. St. Louis is of course one of these cities receiving funds by formula. The use of the funds is to address community development, housing, economic development in a way that the local community plans. The city receives an allocation of millions of dollars a year. The amount has declined but is substantial.

The city has misused much of this funding. Instead of concentrating funding on the areas of greatest need, the funds are divided equally among the 28 wards. This of course waters down the effect and provides the aldermen a slush fund for pet projects, which may have nothing to do with broader priorities of the city. When I worked for the St.Louis Housing Authority we needed city wide targeting of block grant funds to get $28 million from HUD for the Darst-Webbe demolition and redevelopment. This commitment was tough to get. Funds have been used to over rehab houses in very poor locations, or to create non profits which accomplish little. HUD shares in the blame because they have lacked the courage to challenge the city on these policies. I intend to do some detailed reporting on this subject in the future.

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