Public Housing:

Conditions at the Laurel Park Project in St. Petersburg, Florida

RCED-87-33: Published: Feb 4, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the deterioration of the St. Petersburg, Florida, Laurel Park housing project, specifically: (1) why unmet physical needs exist at Laurel Park; (2) why the St. Petersburg Housing Agency was unsuccessful in applying for modernization funds under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program (CIAP); and (3) housing agency actions to improve the project's condition.

GAO found that: (1) HUD and the agency agreed that Laurel Park's physical conditions needed improvement, although they differed on the extent; (2) the agency's maintenance program did not identify or respond to maintenance needs effectively and in a timely manner; and (3) the agency had difficulty in hiring and retaining competent staff. GAO also found that: (1) in 1985, Florida public housing agencies submitted applications for CIAP funds totaling almost $95 million, while the HUD target allocation for Florida was only $13.5 million; (2) during the initial eligibility review of the application for Laurel Park, the HUD field office deleted several of the comprehensive modernization item requests and established that the application was eligible for $240,000 in emergency funding for leaking roofs and $1,452,384 in comprehensive modernization funding; (3) HUD ranked the Laurel Park application 48th out of 62, well below the cut-off point of 25, because of its concern over the housing agency's management capability; and (4) after extensive local publicity, HUD reassessed the project's condition and awarded the agency $250,000 for emergency repairs not identified in the original application, and St. Petersburg awarded the agency $521,426 in Community Development Block Grant funds for other repairs.

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