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NYU Study Evaluates Public Housing Repairs and Resident Health

Crystal Wojciechowski, PHADA Policy Analyst

New York University’s (NYU) Furman Center discussed public housing repairs and resident health in their blog The Stoop in early February. The blog discusses a new study that explores whether transferring ownership to private developers, and subsequent housing renovations, led to improvements in residents’ health over a three-year period. The article notes that there is an abundance of research that has shown that poor housing quality can expose residents to health hazards such as lead and mold, increase the risk for unintentional injuries, and harbor conditions that exacerbate chronic disease (e.g. pest infestations that trigger asthma). However, few studies have specifically investigated how housing renovations may improve the health and well-being of public housing residents over time. This study begins to explore that gap.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that the 1.1 million public housing units, holding roughly 2.3 million low-income adults and children across the country need $50 billion for critical capital improvements; PHADA estimates that number to be closer to $70 billion. HUD’s Office of Capital Improvements administers the Capital Fund, which provides funds annually to public housing authorities for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments. For years, the Capital Fund has been severely underfunded, reflected by the significant need for capital improvements at public housing properties across the nation. A number of efforts, mostly initiated by public housing authorities, are underway across the country to modernize assisted housing developments through public-private partnerships, demonstration programs, and other innovative strategies.

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