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RE: [SCOPA] RE: [housingissues] FW: Report on Hope VI

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  • Michele Ogilvie
    ouch! ... From: Wendy A Hathaway [mailto:wendyhathaway@mindspring.com] Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 3:22 PM To: housingissues@yahoogroups.com;
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 18, 2004
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      ouch!
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Wendy A Hathaway [mailto:wendyhathaway@...]
      Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 3:22 PM
      To: housingissues@yahoogroups.com; scopa@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SCOPA] RE: [housingissues] FW: Report on Hope VI

      Wayne Sherwood’s comments on the Urban Institute’s HOPE VI report.

       

       

      -----Original Message-----

      From: Wayne Sherwood [mailto:WayneSherwood@...]

      Sent: Wed 5/19/2004 8:11 AM

      To: Wayne Sherwood

      Cc:

      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:

      http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411002_HOPEVI.pdf

      <http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411002_HOPEVI.pdf> 

       

      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

      Institution

       

      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

      before Congress.

       

      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

      recommendations.

       

      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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