Housing Block Grant Activity in Seattle:

A Case Study

CED-82-60: Published: Mar 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1982.

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GAO examined the local housing activities under the Community Development Block Grant Program in Seattle, Washington, to assist Congress which is currently considering various alternatives for dispensing federal housing subsidies.

Seattle has used Community Development Block Grant funds to provide minor assistance for a number of housing units. Elderly homeowners with low to moderate income were the primary beneficiaries. Private rental units and renters were less affected by the funds. Seattle has spent $17.1 million of the total block grant funds it received for housing related purposes. Of this amount, 32 percent has been spent on owner-occupied housing units and 21 percent on privately and publicly owned rental housing. The remaining 47 percent was spent on administrative costs, for housing counseling and workshops in home repairs, and for miscellaneous housing activities. The administrative expenses reflect the need for careful management because of the complexity of the block grant housing programs. The funding was used to provide more direct assistance to beneficiaries of other city housing programs. Funds have been expended principally through low-interest loans, deferred loans, and grants. Seattle has rehabilitated 896 owner-occupied, single-family housing units and made minor repairs to 6,560 units, acquired land for low-rent public housing units, and rehabilitated 410 privately owned rental units. The city's most unique program is designed to rehabilitate single-room occupancy units for low-income families. City officials are concerned about the flexibility of the housing block grant program and the funding levels it would provide. One official has suggested combining housing vouchers with a housing block grant.

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