The nation’s 1.2 million public housing units need $25.6 billion in large-scale capital improvements to make the housing safe, secure and economically sustainable, a new study from HUD reports. The study, “Capital Needs in the Public Housing Programs,” reports that the capital needs estimate, known as the “backlog” is approximately $23,593 per unit of public housing, increasing approximately $3,155 per year per unit due to normal use and aging, for a total cost-increase of $3.4 billion per year.
The study updates a 1998 analysis and covers the costs of addressing overdue repairs, accessibility improvements for disabled residents, lead abatement, and water and energy conservation that would make the homes more cost and energy efficient. In addition to backlog needs, the study looked at accrual needs for ongoing repairs and replacements beyond usual maintenance requirements once existing needs are met.
Since 1998, the last time a large-scale analysis was completed, the estimated existing capital need fell $10 billion. According to the study, this is due in part to a decrease in the average backlog per unit, but mostly to the loss of public housing units in the country. The study found that despite HOPE IV and efforts to raise capital to preserve existing units, the country is losing thousands of public housing units per year. There are 9% fewer units of public housing in 2010 than there were in 1998.