Multifamily Housing:

Effects of HUD's Portfolio Reengineering Proposal

RCED-97-7: Published: Nov 1, 1996. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1996.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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GAO reviewed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) proposals to reengineer its portfolio of insured Section 8 multifamily rental housing properties, focusing on the: (1) problems affecting the properties in the HUD insured Section 8 portfolio and HUD plans for addressing them; (2) results and reasonableness of a study performed by Ernst & Young to assess the effects of the HUD proposal on the portfolio's properties; and (3) key issues facing Congress in assessing the HUD proposal.

GAO found that: (1) the HUD insured Section 8 portfolio suffers from high subsidy costs, high exposure to insurance loss, and the poor physical condition of some properties; (2) under the HUD mark-to-market proposal, property owners would set rents at market levels, and HUD would reduce mortgages as necessary to achieve positive cash flows, terminate Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance, and replace Section 8 project-based rental subsidies with portable tenant-based subsidies; (3) the Ernst & Young study concluded that under the reengineering proposal, about 80 percent of the properties would need to have their mortgages reduced to some degree and that between 22 and 29 percent of the properties would have difficulty sustaining operations even if their mortgages were totally written off; (4) the study data indicated that the cost to the government of writing down mortgages and addressing deferred maintenance needs at reengineered properties would be high; (5) based on Ernst & Young's assumptions, FHA insurance fund claims would be between $6 billion and $7 billion in present value over the next 10 years and subsidy costs would be comparable to the existing program's subsidy costs if all of the properties were reengineered when their Section 8 contracts expire; and (6) Ernst & Young's financial model was generally reasonable, but some assumptions about the properties' deferred maintenance needs were questionable and some financing assumptions may not reflect the way in which insured Section 8 properties would actually be affected by portfolio reengineering.

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