WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 3, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — In a notice issued today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Public and Indian Housing clarified and strengthened policy guidance in an effort to curb the decades-long sale and needless destruction of the public housing stock that is affordable to the lowest income people.
Since 1983, HUD has authorized public housing agencies (PHAs) to apply for permission to demolish or dispose of (sell) public housing units. This policy was made infinitely more damaging in 1995 when Congress began suspending the requirement that housing agencies replace, on a one-for-one basis, any public housing lost through demolition or disposition. Between 2000 and 2008, more than 99,000 public housing units were demolished or disposed of, and applications for the demolition or disposition of another 16,672 units were pending at the end of that period.
HUD states that the purpose of the notice (PIH 2012-7 (HA)) is to explain the process of applying to HUD for permission to demolish or dispose of public housing units. The notice reminds PHAs that they must present adequate justification for demolishing or selling public housing, and that PHAs have an obligation to involve public housing residents in the decision-making process.
Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says her group estimates that the demolition and disposition of public housing still results in the loss of about 10,000 homes annually. “This level of loss of homes affordable to the lowest income people tears a big hole in the American safety net,” said Ms. Crowley. “We applaud HUD for revisiting the demolition and disposition issue and responding to the very real needs of our country’s lowest income people.”
Advocates for socially just housing policy have long worked for changes to the demolition and disposition application process. They argue that changes must be made to allow for sufficient resident involvement, protection of civil rights, and assurance that the homes to be demolished or disposed of truly qualify for that treatment under the law, among other things.
“Demolition or disposition might be the right thing to do in some cases, but in the end, it means taking away residents’ homes,” said George Moses, Chairman of the Board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and a long-time advocate for public housing residents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I am glad that HUD is helping make sure that residents have the opportunity to understand and weigh in on what happens to their homes and their futures.”
HUD offers technical assistance to PHAs in complying with the notice. The National Low Income Housing Coalition urges public housing residents to work proactively with their PHA to ensure demolition and disposition applications are compliant.
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.
National Low Income Housing Coalition
727 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
202/662-1530; Fax 202/393-1973; ; www.nlihc.org
Amy Clark, , 202.662.1530 x227