Analysis of HUD Efforts To Alleviate Housing Abandonment

CED-81-130: Published: Jun 25, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1981.

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GAO analyzed responses to a congressional inquiry concerning housing abandonment and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) efforts to alleviate the problem. The questions and the HUD response focused on the following subject areas: (1) strategies for alleviating housing abandonment, (2) laws and regulations which impede solutions to the abandonment problem, (3) impact of HUD programs on housing abandonment, and (4) squatters in HUD-owned houses. The review was performed at HUD headquarters and in the HUD office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

HUD has made a policy decision to allow cities to develop their own specific strategies for minimizing future abandonment and reducing current abandonment. In coping with the problem, HUD uses a two-fold approach: (1) providing flexible funding sources such as the Community Development Block Grant Program, and (2) sponsoring technical assistance and demonstration projects from which cities may learn more about abandonment and its solutions. While there are a number of State and local laws that adversely affect the problem, HUD does not believe that its policies or implementation of regulations contribute to delays in decisions in the disposition of HUD-owned properties. It believes that these difficulties are attributable to the declining state of the neighborhoods in which the properties are located and the poor condition of the properties when they are acquired. Although HUD cited several programs which could have an impact in combating abandonment, it has not made an assessment of their impact on the problem. Squatters, or nonpaying residents, are a problem and are organized in some cities. Many properties occupied by organized squatters are those that have been repaired by HUD for sale. The inability of HUD to deliver possession because of squatter activity will destroy the HUD sales program. HUD believes that there can be no specific national strategy addressing the housing abandonment problem and that cities should develop their own specific strategies with HUD assistance for minimizing and reducing current abandonment.

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