Academic journal article Cityscape

HOPE and Choice for HUD-Assisted Households

Academic journal article Cityscape

HOPE and Choice for HUD-Assisted Households

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the establishment of HUD in 1965, the agency has struggled to address the deterioration of assisted housing, particularly public housing, and urban neighborhoods. Often, those two challenges have gone hand in hand. Public housing was racially segregated, targeted to households with very low incomes, and typically built in older, inner-city neighborhoods that previously contained substandard housing (Khadduri, 2015; Schill, 1993). Over time, these neighborhoods declined further, and public housing properties deteriorated with age. Many factors contributed to this decline, including concentration of poverty, migration of jobs and middle-income households to the suburbs, poor design of public housing properties, inadequate funding of public housing, public housing occupancy and rent rules, public housing management practices, and more (Schill, 1993).

By the late 1980s, many public housing properties had accrued substantial capital needs. In 1992, the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing issued a report estimating that 86,000 public housing units-6 percent of the total public housing stock at the time-were severely distressed and in need of major rehabilitation or replacement (National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, 1992). Congress responded in 1992 with the creation of the HOPE VI Program. The central goal of HOPE VI was to transform severely distressed public housing through rehabilitation, demolition, and reconstruction. Secondary goals of HOPE VI included the deconcentration of poverty and provision of supportive services for public housing residents. Projects funded by HOPE VI varied widely across sites and over time. Some sites used HOPE VI funding to demolish public housing and rebuild in the same location with the same number of units, improving the physical condition of the public housing without substantially redesigning the site or the community. Other sites used HOPE VI to demolish public housing and replace the demolished units with housing choice vouchers, focusing on deconcentrating poverty through vouchers. Still other sites used HOPE VI to completely transform a development and neighborhood, attempting to reduce the concentration of poverty by demolishing public housing and rebuilding a mix of housing-including public housing, other assisted housing, and market rate housing. The program evolved substantially over time. It was a "laboratory to test new and often contentious ideas about public housing finance, management, and design" (Popkin et al., 2004: 3).

From 1993 to 2011, HUD provided 260 HOPE VI grants totaling $6 billion (Gress, Cho, and Joseph, 2016). In total, 98,592 public housing units were demolished-more than the 86,000 severely distressed units that were estimated to exist in 1992-and 97,389 new units were built, including 55,318 public housing units and 28,979 affordable units (Gress, Cho, and Joseph, 2016). However, the remaining public housing stock continues to include many severely distressed developments in low-opportunity neighborhoods. Finkel et al. (2010) estimated that the backlog of capital needs among the nearly 1.2 million public housing units was approximately $26 billion, with each subsequent year accruing an additional $3.4 billion in capital needs. In 2015, 4,792 out of 26,711 public housing developments (18 percent) were in census tracts with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher.1

HUD created the Choice Neighborhoods program (hereafter, Choice) in 2010 as the successor to the HOPE VI Program, with the objective of continuing to support large-scale redevelopment of severely distressed assisted housing. Choice embraces many of the programmatic elements of the HOPE VI Program, such as an emphasis on mixed finance redevelopment, the inclusion of a variety of housing types (including market rate units and subsidized units targeted to different income groups), one for one replacement of hard units of subsidized housing, right to return for original residents, and a greater emphasis on supportive services for residents (Buron et al. …

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