Public Housing:

Funding and Other Constraints Limit Housing Authorities' Ability to Comply with One-for-One Rule

RCED-95-78: Published: Mar 3, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1995.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed public housing authorities' ability to comply with the one-for-one replacement rule, focusing on the: (1) housing authorities with the highest number of vacant units; (2) impact of the one-for-one replacement law on housing authorities' ability to deal with their unusable housing units; and (3) proposed waiver of the one-for-one rule.

GAO found that: (1) 27 housing authorities account for about one-half of the 102,000 vacancies nationwide; (2) most of the 27 authorities are located in major cities and have more than 1,250 units; (3) the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has classified 10 of the 27 authorities as troubled; (4) 200 of the more than 13,000 public housing developments have vacancy rates of 50 percent or more; (5) the lack of federal funding for new housing or other replacement assistance and the lack of suitable replacement sites make it difficult for housing authorities to tear down and replace their nonviable housing units under the one-for-one rule; (6) HUD officials believe that funding for replacement housing is available on a multiyear basis, but housing authorities have failed to apply for such funding; (7) the failure to tear down nonviable housing results in excessive operating costs and federal subsidies and abets crime and vandalism; (8) although housing officials believe that waiving the one-for-one replacement rule would be useful in eliminating nonviable units, they view the proposed waiver as too restrictive and inflexible; and (9) housing officials believe that complying with one or more criteria should be sufficient grounds for granting a waiver, and that the lack of suitable replacement sites and other issues should be considerations when qualifying for a waiver.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The House of Representatives took action on the recommendation and went farther than GAO recommended. The 1995 Rescission Bill included a 1-year moratorium on the One-for-One requirement and Housing Act of 1995 (Final Draft) repealed the law.

    Matter: To assist housing authorities to make the best use of the resources at their disposal, Congress should consider giving the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development the flexibility to approve alternative approaches to replacing nonviable housing that has been demolished or sold. In considering reasonable alternatives, the Secretary might take into account resource availability and circumstances unique to a specific housing authority. For example, instead of replacing demolished or sold units using the combinations of replacement units and certificates currently allowed by law, the Secretary might approve a housing replacement plan that makes more liberal use of section 8 tenant-based certificates, if they are available.


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