The Obama Administration Is Expanding a Program to Fix Up Public Housing—Too Bad the Program Might Also Privatize It

Article diving into the politics of the so-called RAD program that seeks to address the lack of repairs in public housing.
News Story (NATIONAL, Pennsylvania)

Jake Blumgart
June 9, 2015
Full story

Tags: Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) (DC)


Despite the enormous need to preserve public-housing units amid what Obama’s first HUD secretary, Shaun Donovan, described as “the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known,” the administration has not attempted to promote adequate congressional funding of the country’s vast repository of public housing.

Whether this failure to push for full funding stems from ideological conviction or political expediency is unclear. What is clear is that advocates’ early hopes for a progressive Obama administration approach to affordable housing in general—and to public housing in specific—have given way to the reality of programs like RAD, launched in 2012, which lean heavily on the private sector for relief.

RAD works by allowing public housing units to be transferred over to the Section 8, which relies on partnerships with private landlords. Part of the advantage of Section 8 is that its funding hasn’t suffered as much at the hands of Congress, but it will enable local housing authorities to seek mortgages and other private-sector equity more easily to pay for repairs, and makes Low Income Housing Tax Credits more accessible, thus drawing in private partners to invest in—and potentially own—the units as well.