RE: [SCOPA] RE: [housingissues] FW: Report on Hope VI
From: Wendy A Hathaway [mailto:wendyhathaway@...]
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 3:22 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [SCOPA] RE: [housingissues] FW: Report on Hope VI
Wayne Sherwood’s comments on the Urban Institute’s HOPE VI report.
From: Wayne Sherwood [mailto:WayneSherwood@...]
Sent: Wed 5/19/2004 8:11 AM
To: Wayne Sherwood
Subject: Urban Institute Report on HOPE VI
URBAN INSTITUTE REPORT ON HOPE VI.
A new report from the Urban Institute and Brookings on HOPE VI is now
available on the web at:
Title: "A Decade of HOPE VI: Research Findings and Policy Challenges." --
Authors: Susan Popkin, Bruce Katz, Mary Cunningham, Karen Brown, Jeremy
Gustafson and Margery A. Turner --
Date: May 2004 -- Published by: The Urban Institute; The Brookings
In my opinion, this report is largely a rehash of materials presented at a
"symposium" at the Urban Institute on HOPE VI in December 2002, and is
being reissued now as a political document to provide ammunition for those
in Congress and elsewhere who support the HOPE VI program at this critical
moment in an election year when the continuation of the HOPE VI program is
In January 2003, I prepared a 14-page critique of the materials presented
by Urban Institute at its 12/2002 symposium. I will not repeat all of
those criticisms here, but I believe that this new document deserves
similar criticism. I will send a copy of my January 2003 critique as an
e-mail attachment upon request.
The Urban Institute/Brookings report claims to be a "review of existing
research," yet it presents some strong conclusions and recommendations of
its own. The report does not contain convincing links between the
available research evidence and its own strong conclusions and
The Urban Institute/Brookings report claims to be a comprehensive summary
of existing research on the achievements and impacts of the HOPE VI
program. The report makes it seem as if this research literature on the
impacts of HOPE VI is substantial. It is not. There is virtually no
systematic, valid research on the impacts of the HOPE VI program over time,
even though nearly $6 billion has been appropriated by Con-gress for this
program since it was begun in FY1993. This is a scandal.
The report is full of anecdotal information and surmises. It repeatedly
relies upon statements such as "many" "most," or "some" and often uses the
word "may". This is not research. These words are speculative waffle
words. Think of a student who has been given an astronomy assignment and
who writes a report saying "Many stars may be brighter than others. Some
stars may be large, while some may be small. A few are white, while others
appear to be red. These research findings may suggest that stars are of
different colors. More research is needed." This is not what one expects
from professional researchers.
How can there be any valid research into the real impacts of HOPE VI, when
according to recent statements by HUD, only 19 HOPE VI developments have
been completed out of a total of approximately 200 that have received
funding over the past eleven years nationwide? The answer is that there
isn't any valid research about the real impacts of HOPE VI.
The UI/Brookings report acknowledges the lack of data. "Because of the
absence of definitive data and evaluation results, perceptions about the
impacts of HOPE VI vary widely. Some people characterize it is a dramatic
success, while others view it as a profound failure." (p.3)
Chapter 2 speculates on the problems of severely distressed public housing
developments. It says they may be severely distressed, have poor physical
and social conditions, etc. Well, yes, they may.
Chapter 3 talks about HUD's public housing policy changes as HOPE VI
progressed and what HUD intended by them. Lacking research findings, the
report puffs up good intentions.
Chapter 4 talks about the impact of HOPE VI on public housing developments.
It says that the principal source of information about completed HOPE VI
projects is an Abt study of 13 completed sites. It says that the new
buildings were better than the ones that were there before. "Completed
HOPE VI sites have dramatically improved the aesthetics of public housing."
(p.19) One hopes so.
The report also states that HOPE VI "has resulted in a net loss of housing
units that are permanently affordable for very low-income households.
Specifically, developments awarded HOPE VI grants through 2003 accounted
for 94,600 public housing units. Current plans call for a total of 95,100
replacement units, but only 48,800 of these will receive the deep,
permanent public housing operating subsidies necessary to reach households
with very low incomes. The remainder will receive shallower subsidies --
and serve families who are not necessarily eligible for public housing or
no subsidies -- and serve market-rate renters or even homebuyers. Thus,
only slightly more than half of the original stock of deeply subsidized
units is expected to be replaced." (p.21) Even these replacement units
are based upon PHA plans only, and many PHAs have been changing the plans
along the way so that even fewer of the public housing units will be
replaced, so the loss is even greater than stated here.
Chapter 4 describes the "mixed income" approach, and says that it can be a
good idea, but warns that it remains to be seen whether this approach will
be a viable strategy over the longer term future. On the one hand, on the
other hand. It's OK to speculate about this and note that the outcome is
unclear, but the UI/Brookings report as a whole implies that the mixed
income approach is a good thing. Research to date doesn't show this.
Chapter 4 also says that PHAs have taken a major new approach to
"leveraging" outside dollars as a way of coming up with more money for
housing and neighborhood revitalization. But a GAO report that relied on
the PHAs' own HOPE VI plans said that only 12% of the money reported as
"planned to be leveraged" in those plans was expected to come from
non-governmental sources. All the rest merely represented a re-shuffling
of federal, state or local government dollars that would have been
available for other projects elsewhere if this money had not been used at
HOPE VI sites. There has been no report on how much actual private money
has gone into these deals, as opposed to the amounts that the PHA plans
state are "expected to be leveraged." This has not constituted leveraging
new money, it has mostly been relocating government money from one place to
another. I am not suggesting that this reshuffle was necessarily a bad
thing, only that the extravagant claims of leveraging did not really
represent much new private investment.
Chapter 5 is titled "Impact of HOPE VI on public housing residents." It
says, "Unfortunately, there is only limited information about how these
residents have fared, although early analysis suggests that relatively few
will return to the revitalized HOPE VI developments. The lack of
consistent and reliable administrative data on housing and neighborhood
outcomes for the original residents has muddied the debate about the
performance of HOPE VI and makes it difficult for policymakers to reach
informed decisions about whether and how the implementation of the program
should be improved." (p.27) Never mind, not to worry. Although shedding
a crocodile tear about the lack of data about what happened to the former
residents, the Urban Institute report says that available research strongly
supports continuation of HOPE VI.
On page 35, the report states without any evident irony that "To assist
with the move, housing agencies are required by the federal Uniform
Relocation Act to provide displaced residents with a 'comparable unit' and
to cover moving expenses." Does that mean that residents might just be
moved to another unit of severely distressed public housing? Would that
be more evidence of HOPE VI's success?
Chapter 7 is titled "impact of HOPE VI on neighborhood conditions." This
chapter points out that in many area
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