Group Title: Affordable housing issues
Title: Affordable housing issues ; vol. 15 no. 1
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 Material Information
Title: Affordable housing issues ; vol. 15 no. 1
Series Title: Affordable housing issues
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing
Publisher: Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: December 2004
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Bibliographic ID: UF00087009
Volume ID: VID00030
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Building Construction College of Design, Construction & Planning PO Box 115703,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 TEL: (352) 273-1192 SUNCOM: 622-7697 FAX: (352) 392-4364

Volume XV, Number 1

December 2004

The Public Housing Authorities in Florida provide an important affordable housing resource
for the lower-income citizens of the state. Over 120,000 housing units are included in their
inventory of public housing developments and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. The need,
however, exceeds the supply of housing units available. A survey conducted in early 2004
found over 130,000 households were on waiting lists for the housing assistance provided by the
Public Housing Authorities. The report summarizing the findings of this survey is available in
downloadable format by visiting the Shimberg Center's Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse
web site at

More than 100 public housing authorities
(PHAs) in Florida provide housing opportuni-
ties for low-income citizens through the opera-
tion of public housing rental units and admin-
istration of the Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher program. There are more than 41,000
rental units in Florida owned and operated by
PHAs. In addition, PHAs in Florida administer
more than 80,000 vouchers that allow low-
income households to rent housing from
private sector landlords.

By far, the largest proportion of those served
by PHAs are households with incomes below
the federal poverty level. Social Security recipi-
ents make up the largest group (about 58 per-
cent) served by public housing authorities.
Because Social Security income may arise from
retirement, disability, or the death of a parent,
this group includes households with members
of all ages. Wage-earning households make up
about one-third of those who live in public
housing or receive housing vouchers, while less
than 10 percent of public housing residents and
voucher holders receive Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF).

H 0 S N

Public housing authorities are dependent
upon Congressional budget deliberations and
the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) for funds used to operate
public housing and administer the Section 8
Housing Choice Voucher program. In each of
these programs, the tenant-paid portion of rents
is based upon actual tenant income. Currently,
the federal standard for housing affordability is
that a household pay no more than 30 percent
of its gross monthly income for housing-includ-
ing both rent and utilities. Because incomes at
the low- to moderate-level in the U. S. have
tended to stagnate over the last decade while
housing costs have continued to rise, the
impact of federal resource constraints has
posed significant challenges for PHAs as they
work to serve income-qualified households in
their communities.

Nearly every public housing authority in
Florida has a waiting list for public housing
units and housing vouchers. Based on a survey
administered by the Shimberg Center on behalf
of the Florida Association of Housing and
Redevelopment Officials (FAHRO) in early
2004, there were 55,000 households on waiting
lists for rental units in public housing authority-
operated developments in Florida. Thus, there
are more households on waiting lists for public
housing rental units than are currently living in
public housing.

The survey also indicated that more than
79,000 households were on waiting lists for
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. These
waiting lists are long, despite the fact that
resource limitations regularly force PHAs to
close their waiting lists-sometimes for as long as
five years at a time.

Given the critical imbalance between the
financial resources available and the need for
affordable housing among Florida's lowest
income citizens, public housing authority perfor-
mance is a vital concern. Public housing author-
ity performance is monitored regularly by HUD
through two separate systems: the Public Hous-
ing Assessment System (PHAS) and the Section 8
Management Assessment Program (SEMAP).

Each public housing authority that operates
public housing rental units is evaluated using
PHAS. The PHAS score is calculated based on
the PHA's performance on four different indica-
tors, including physical condition of the housing.
PHAS is based on 100 possible points. Based on
data supplied by HUD in early 2004, large PHAs
in Florida (those that operate 1,000 or more units
of public housing) were standard performers,
with a median score of 87. PHAs in the small
and medium size categories were high perform-
ers, with median scores of 92.

In addition, each PHA that administers Sec-
tion 8 Housing Choice Vouchers is evaluated
using the SEMAP system. This performance
measurement system uses 14 indicators, includ-
ing the extent to which available funding is
utilized (known as a utilization rate and calcu-
lated as a percentage). On average, Florida's
PHAs are high performers in their administra-
tion of the voucher program. HUD data indi-
cated that the median SEMAP score for large,
medium, and small PHAs in Florida was 96.

Another means of looking at performance is
available by evaluating the administrative
expenses for the Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher program. Based on data supplied by
HUD, administrative expenses for this program

were less than 11 percent of total program
expenditures on a statewide basis. The data
showed some evidence of economies of scale in
administering the voucher program: Large
PHAs had a median value of 9.74 percent on
this measure, while medium PHAs had a value
of 11.63 percent. Small PHAs had a median
value of 13.01 percent.

Total expenditures by public housing au-
thorities in Florida were more than $819 million
for fiscal years ending between September 30,
2002 and June 30, 2003, based on data provided
by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development. Median expenditures for large
PHAs were more than $17 million per year
during this period, while the median for me-
dium PHAs was slightly more than $2.8 million.
Small PHAs had median total expenditures of
more than one-half million dollars per year.

A significant portion of each PHA's total
expenditures makes it way into the local
economy. Payments to private-sector landlords
on behalf of voucher holders represent the
largest portion of total expenditures in PHAs
that administer the Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher program. Salaries paid to staff are
another source of stimulus to the local economy.
Payments made to local businesses for various
services are also part of total expenditures.
Finally, those tenants and voucher holders
who benefit from PHA-administered pro-
grams have more disposable income available
to spend within the local community than do
low-income households that do not receive
housing assistance.

Public housing authorities in Florida have
shown leadership in housing innovation. Suc-
cessful competition for federal HOPE VI grant
funds has been one source of housing innova-
tion. Since HOPE VI inception in 1993, nine
public housing authorities in Florida have
received 13 grants totaling nearly $250 million.
National competition for these funds is fierce,
and the HOPE VI grants represent funds that
would not have been awarded within Florida
without successful efforts in innovation by
Florida's PHAs. These funds have been com-
bined with other public and private sector
funds to demolish distressed public housing
and replace it with new, mixed income commu-
nities. By working with private sector partners
and other sources of public funding such as the
Florida Housing Finance Corporation, PHAs
have brought more than $657 million to dis-
tressed neighborhoods around the state.

Innovation among public housing authorities
has not been limited to HOPE VI developments.
Some housing authorities have issued tax-
exempt bonds in order to preserve the
affordability of properties that might otherwise
be lost to the stock of affordable housing in
Florida. Other housing authorities innovate by
finding ways to fund new housing opportuni-
ties for special needs populations such as
homeless persons or frail elderly individuals.
Many PHAs have worked with private-sector
partners or are interested in building future
working relationships with the private sector.

For a more detailed look at public housing
authority operations in Florida see the
Shimberg Center's full report, Public Housing
Authorities in Florida: An Analysis of Selected
Issues. This report is available in downloadable
format by visiting the Shimberg Center's
Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse at Users
can locate the report by clicking on the Publica-
tions tab and scrolling down. The Clearing-
house also contains a searchable database on
information related to PHAs, including the

number of public housing units operated, the
number of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
administered, and contact telephone numbers
for each PHA in Florida.

The Florida Association of Housing and
Redevelopment Officials is a nonprofit profes-
sional organization made up of public housing
officials from all regions of the state. Their
website is another valuable source of informa-
tion on PHA activities. Their website address is

Affordable Housing ISSUES is prepared bi-monthly by the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing for the purpose of
discussing contemporary issues facing affordable housing providers. Reproduction of this newsletter is both permitted and
encouraged. Comments or questions regarding the content are welcome and should be addressed to Robert C. Stroh, Director.

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