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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 99-71
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeApril 21, 1999


WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today that the first comprehensive physical inspections of public housing around the nation gave 87 percent of 750 housing authorities good or excellent ratings.

In addition, a companion HUD survey of residents in public housing found that 75 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their housing units. The survey found that 64 percent of residents would recommend their public housing developments to a relative or friend, and also said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their developments and their neighborhoods.

Results of the inspection and resident survey are contained in a report released by Cuomo titled A House in Order: Results From the First National Assessment of HUD Housing.

The physical inspections at the first 750 housing authorities rated 23 percent as operating housing in excellent condition (high performers) and 64 percent as operating housing in good condition (successful performers), with the remaining 13 percent in need of improvement.

"This report shows that the vast majority of public housing is in good condition and that residents are satisfied with their housing," Cuomo said. "It proves that HUD's partnership with public housing authorities to improve the quality of housing for some of the most vulnerable families in America is succeeding. We are providing families in need with good housing and we are providing taxpayers with good value for their investment."

Nearly 1.3 million low-income families live in public housing in about 14,000 developments around the nation operated by 3,400 housing authorities. Another 3 million families live in privately owned affordable housing in about 30,000 developments that are assisted by HUD with subsidies or insurance.

Under landmark management reforms launched by Cuomo, HUD is conducting the first nationwide inspections in history of all public and assisted housing.

In announcing completion of the first public housing inspections, Cuomo said inspections of all 3,400 housing authorities in the nation and all HUD assisted housing are scheduled for completion by the end of this calendar year. Inspections began in October.

Cuomo made the announcements at a ceremony at HUD headquarters honoring public housing authorities that were rated as successful and high performers (see list on HUD Web).

HUD spends $15 billion per year to subsidize public and assisted housing. The report issued today says: "Despite this enormous investment of public funds, the Federal Government has never since the inception of these (subsidy) programs - which have been in place for decades - had the ability to assess the condition of the properties supported by these funds."

The first round of inspections are advisory in nature. HUD will work with housing authorities that received low inspection scores to help them improve their performance.

In future years, housing authorities that receive low scores on physical inspections, financial assessments, management reviews or resident surveys conducted by HUD can be placed on HUD's list of troubled housing authorities. This will place them under stricter HUD oversight to improve their performance.

The evaluations are part of HUD's new Public Housing Assessment System. Inspections of both public and assisted housing are being conducted by HUD's new Real Estate Assessment Center. The Center, created as part of the sweeping HUD 2020 Management Reform Plan, centralizes and standardizes the oversight of all of HUD's subsidized housing.

HUD trained and dispatched inspectors to conduct the Department's first nationwide physical inspection of public housing developments. The Real Estate Assessment Center used its own computerized inspection system to enable contract inspectors (sometimes accompanied by HUD inspectors) to use hand-held computers that provide for instant data retrieval, updating and reporting.

The new inspection process is totally electronic and measures properties against an objective set of criteria that HUD established in consultation with Parsons/Brinkerhoff, an internationally recognized engineering firm based in Washington, DC.

The physical inspections cover: apartment development sites, building exteriors, common areas, building systems and a randomly selected statistical sample of the apartment units in each development. Inspectors also examine and verify certificates for boilers, elevators, fire alarms, lead-based paint, and sprinkler systems.

In February, Cuomo announced the first results of HUD inspections of privately owned affordable apartment complexes subsidized or insured by HUD. Those results showed that 83 percent of the first 3,722 apartment complexes that were inspected were in good or excellent condition. More than 4,000 assisted apartment complexes have now been inspected.

Cuomo said that before the nationwide inspection initiative began, HUD inspections were largely subjective and ineffective, with the results frequently just filed away and never acted upon.

The most common problems found in inspections were in individual apartments. They were: walls with holes, or with chipping or peeling paint; kitchens with missing countertops or cabinets, or damaged stoves; doors that were damaged or broken; smoke detectors that were missing or inoperable; and bathrooms that had leaking faucets and pipes, or damaged or missing cabinets. Another common problem was a need for repairs to walkways and parking lots.

In cases where imminent health and safety violations are discovered, public housing authorities are notified that immediate corrective action is needed. Some of the health and safety violations considered imminent are: leaking propane, natural gas, or methane gas; exposed wires or open electrical panels; water leaks on or near electrical equipment; and gas-fired hot water heaters that are missing or hooked up to misaligned chimneys.


Results of the national assessment of HUD housing announced today by Secretary Andrew Cuomo are part of the reinvention initiatives contained in the HUD 2020 Management Reform Plan launched by Cuomo in June 1997.

Here are excerpts from independent reviews of the management reforms underway at HUD:

  • Management Expert David Osborne, author of Reinventing Government, wrote in 1998 that management reform at HUD "as it is being implemented today represents one of the most ambitious, fundamental and exciting reinvention plans in the recent history of the federal government."

  • A review by management consultants Booz-Allen & Hamilton concluded in March 1998 that HUD has made "significant progress towards achieving the many management reforms that are critical to making the Department function effectively."

  • Another outside review of HUD's reinvention performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP concluded in December 1998 that HUD's management reform plan is successfully moving forward on schedule. The review said that "implementation of the Community Builders, Enforcement Center, Procurement Reform, Real Estate Assessment Center, Storefronts, and Troubled Agency Recovery Center is well under way. Each project met all or substantially all of the critical milestones that HUD established for completion as of September 1."

  • A survey found in December 1998 that 70 percent of HUD employees believed the Department has made reinvention an important priority - the highest percentage of any of 22 federal agencies surveyed. The employee survey was performed by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, which is headed by Vice President Al Gore. The Vice President said: "Through REGO (the reinventing government initiative) - and thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Secretary Andrew Cuomo - we turned HUD around."

  • A report in early 1999 by the General Accounting Office of Congress said: "HUD continues to make credible progress in overhauling its operations to correct its management deficiencies" and called Cuomo's management reform plan "a major contributor to this progress."

  • The HUD Inspector General issued the first clean audit of HUD's financial statements in the Department's history in March this year. This means that for the first time, the Department's financial statements are in complete compliance with all applicable federal requirements. While the audit also summarized many of the past criticisms that the Office of Inspector General has made of the Department, the Inspector General wrote that the audit "represents a considerable achievement for HUD, and it further reflects continuing improvements in HUD's commitment and ability to properly account for the funds entrusted to the Department."

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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