Problems With Public Housing

Public housing provides households and individuals across America with affordable housing. Based on data from the middle on Budget and Policy Priorities, over 2.3 million Americans live in public housing complexes. Two-thirds of public housing residents are elderly or handicapped. Public housing complexes can pose problems for both residents and the community, while the access to state housing programs is a necessity for all these individuals.


Even though 3,500 communities in the U.S. offer public housing complexes, the amount of individuals qualified for public housing often exceeds the amount of available units. The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities estimates that roughly 88 percent of communities with home have 500 or less total units that are available. It will place the applicant’s name on a waiting list, if a regional housing authority does not have a unit available for an applicant. Some community are so long that individuals must wait months or even years.

Housing Quality

Modernization is lacked by the components provided in public housing centers and are over 30 years old — the life expectancy for residential units. While less than 15 percent of all housing units are in clearly substandard condition, roughly half qualify as”severely distressed.” Distressed properties may have appliances or significant damage that negatively impacts the residents’ wellbeing.

Mismanagement of Money

The national government is responsible for allocating funds to local public housing authorities. Because of the high number of public housing authorities in the U.S., but the government can’t always accurately assess how the funds are utilized. The Public Housing Assessment System frequently reviews public housing complexes in an effort to rate the overseeing public housing authority’s effectiveness. A 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office claims that the PHAS often overlooks mismanagement of federal funds on account of the fact that it only reviews the efficacy of the overall program instead of the allocation of funds.

Property Value

Public housing complexes can have a detrimental effect on the value of surrounding property. While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asserts that public housing has a neutral or positive impact on community property value, this claim is limited to new advancements. Distressed and aging developments affect the community differently. A case study by the University of Pennsylvania shows that elderly units have a moderately negative effect on surrounding property values. Additionally, the often negative attitude of homeowners in reaction to a proposed public housing project can, in turn, adversely impact surrounding property values.

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