Contributing Causes of Financial and Management Problems in Public Housing Projects

CED-82-31: Published: Jan 8, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined whether there are common denominators that may help explain causes of financial and management problems in lower income public housing projects. GAO focused on two areas affecting public housing operations: (1) the high density of projects and tenants within a given geographic area; and (2) the size of the managing entity. The objective was to determine whether these two factors have influenced financial and management problems more than other factors.

The review of various housing publications and reports and discussions with public housing specialists showed that no consensus exists on what specific factors have the greatest impact on the success or failure of public housing projects. Factors such as a project's physical or management characteristics do contribute to the severity of problems in public housing. However, it has proven difficult to identify a common link between what makes a good project versus what makes a bad one. GAO found no studies or reports demonstrating conclusively a direct relationship between density and public housing problems or management size and poor management performance. GAO found only indications or generalizations being made as to their impact, and the extent of the impacts identified varied from report to report.

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