OGD: Housing and Urban Development


How bad are the public housing projects where our nation’s poorest live? A handful of tables from HUD released minutes ago may lend some insight. Here are some quick takeaways:

The first is quite a large Excel table detailing complaints lodged alleging discrimination based on factors such as race, disability, religion or retaliation for an earlier complaint, broken down by county where the housing project is located. Sunlight has made it slightly easier to access directly in your browser here.

Some quick sums show that LA County tops the list for complaints of all sorts–whites and blacks alike say they’re being discriminated against because of their race, as do those with disabilities. Of course, that’s mostly because it’s one of the largest counties: to make real use of this data to determine disproportional impropriety, we’d need to pull in housing project population by county.

Tarrant County, Texas takes home the (perceived) sexism award.

A more interesting measure, to me, is physical housing inspection scores (again, I’ve put in Google Fusion tables here), which are provided down to the level of individual housing projects. It would be interesting to visit these buildings and witness cockroaches and holes in the walls–or see whether improvements were made in the wake of failing scores. Perhaps not surprisingly, the worst public housing projects in America are in New Orleans. Looking at average inspection scores per housing authority:

Housing authorities with most run-down buildings

pha_name state # of inspections
Avg score Worst score Best score
Housing Authority of New Orleans LA 136 35.3847794117647 3.01 94.79
Housing Authority of St. John the Baptist Parish LA 28 41.1678571428571 9.93 95.95
VIRGIN ISLANDS HOUSING AUTHORITY VI 149 49.8152348993288 9.63 100
Housing Authority of the City of Orange NJ 18 50.5322222222222 5.13 81.99
Wellston Housing Authority MO 13 50.7246153846154 17.78 82.29
The Housing Authority of the City of Sanford FL 49 51.7969387755102 26.72 87.52

Finally, HUD takes a look at agencies’ administrative performance. Which are riddled with failures and lack of oversight? Which have most improved?

Most improved, 2002-2007
Formal HA Name FY02 SEMAP Score Fy07 SEMAP Score improved
Warren Housing Authority 4 96 92
Clearwater County Housing Authority 13 100 87
Housing Authority of the City of Hugo 10 96 86
New London Housing Authority 4 89 85

Most deteriorated, 2002-2007
Formal HA Name FY02 SEMAP Score Fy07 SEMAP Score improved
Mount Pleasant Housing Commission 100 12 -88
Municipality of Adjuntas 87 4 -83
Municipality of Vieques 88 7 -81
Housing Authority of the City of Portland 87 12 -75
Clinton Township Housing Commission 83 9 -74
City of Richmond Housing Authority 83 11 -72
St. Bernard Parish Government 83 11 -72
Housing Authority of the City of North Las Ve 85 14 -71

Here’s the aggregate over time, by ranking. Looks like agencies have been getting better over time — but there’s also been fewer of them.

Year High Standard Troubled Total
2001 868 1332 347 2547
2002 1155 976 374 2505
2003 1332 553 153 2038
2004 1449 542 116 2107
2005 1162 668 162 1992
2006 878 985 179 2042
2007 1055 818 143 2016
2008 1408 512 100 2020