Federal Government Aid for the Homeless - Hope Vi
housing units million public
As a result of the 1992 recommendations of the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, Congress authorized $300 million for an urban revitalization demonstration program in the FY 1993 Appropriations Act. The program came to be named HOPE VI. The acronym stands for Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere. Up to that point, HUD had four different HOPE initiatives; no HOPE V was ever launched (James Bovard, "HUD's Biggest Farce?" Free Market, vol. 18, no. 11, November 2000).
The aim of HOPE VI was to eliminate or upgrade the 86,000 deteriorated units identified by the Commission. In the FY 1993-2002 period, HUD reported revitalization grants totaling $5.04 billion and expended $335.6 million on demolitions. In its FY 2004 budget summary, HUD claimed budget authority for FY 2003 of $574 million. HUD documented that 55,000 housing units had been demolished and 140,000 approved for demolition under HOPE VI and other programs, and no new funding was required for FY 2004 as the agency worked through its existing backlog. In FY 2005, $110 million in funds were available to public housing authorities for revitalization programs.
Critiques and Implications
The findings of the National Commission in 1992 and the launch of an initiative like HOPE VI (aimed at demolishing public housing) illustrates the sometimes troubled history of public housing. HOPE VI itself has been severely criticized by advocacy groups. A 2002 report entitled False HOPE (prepared by the National Housing Law Project, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Sherwood Research Associates, and Everywhere and Now Public Housing Residents Organizing Nationally Together, June 2002) found that HOPE VI:
- Appeared headed toward eliminating twice the number of units found to have been "severely distressed" by the National Commission
- Has eliminated rather than increased units available to the lowest income population
- Has made it very difficult for residents to participate in program decisions
- Has not improved the "living environment" of those in HOPE VI sites, and
- Has failed to provide data on project outcomes
Data on the number of public housing units available to house low-income people support the general charge that the number of units has declined from nearly 1.37 million in 1998 to 1.22 million in 2003, a drop of 150,000 units. If people who inhabit units slated for demolition are not able to find accommodation under HUD Section 8 Voucher programs, they are at greater risk of becoming homeless.