Housing and Urban Development:
Public and Assisted Housing Reform
T-RCED-96-22, Oct 13, 1995
GAO discussed issues surrounding the proposed consolidation and reform of federal public and assisted housing programs. GAO noted that: (1) the proposed legislation seeks significant changes to several fundamental policies that could strengthen the long-term viability of public housing programs; (2) the proposed changes would incorporate sufficient flexibility for housing authorities to deal with the condition of their physical stock, its market value, and the availability of other affordable housing and to determine the cost-effectiveness of retaining public housing versus a certificate program on an individual basis; (3) the transition period needs to be sufficiently long to allow housing authorities to change their tenant income mix and reduce their need for operating subsidies; (4) the merger of the section 8 voucher and certificate programs would result in significant benefits by simplifying program administration and enhancing equity among assisted families; (5) the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) resources could be severely stretched by the trouble housing authorities it currently oversees, particularly if it takes over more of them; (6) an accreditation system may be more effective in assessing housing authorities' performance than the current HUD evaluation program; and (7) integrating public housing into the larger community will depend on interaction between housing authorities and local governments and public housing residents' isolation from the community.