It is hard to know where to start in refuting the recent AP article on public housing. Using skewed numbers and cherry-picked anecdotes, the reporter paints a widely misleading picture that hardly relates to what is actually happening in cities across the country grappling with the most fundamental housing issues.
Let's set the record straight. There are more than 3,100 housing authorities in the country and nearly all are deemed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be either high or standard performers. In HUD's most recent assessment, half of all housing agencies were deemed to be high performers demonstrating that they operate to HUD's highest standards.
This is no cursory review. The Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) is a comprehensive assessment, modeled on the same processes used for private multifamily properties and military housing that examines the physical condition of the properties, the financial and operational management of the PHA portfolio, and the residents' satisfaction with their housing.
The AP article notes 146 agencies as "troubled"-- less than five percent of the total number of agencies -- to portray an entire industry as rife with "rampant mismanagement." This off-base conclusion is not supported by the facts. Every agency listed in the article was not deemed "troubled" by HUD. For a significant number, HUD claimed a deficiency in one area. Authorities are only designated as troubled when HUD claims deficiencies in two of three possible assessment areas.
In fact, a more recent HUD list shows only 31 troubled agencies -- 1% of the total number of agencies affecting less than 1% of all public housing units. The list is fluid because agencies often successfully challenge HUD claims of deficiencies -- that is why there is an appeals process.
This performance record is even more remarkable when you remember that the industry is facing a staggering $30 billion backlog in capital needs.
Here are the facts that tell the real story. Public housing is:
Public housing authorities are on the front lines, carrying out a critical role to serve the most basic needs of people who are most in need. They do it efficiently and effectively and that is what the facts tell us.