Public Housing Authorities in the Private Market

Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, Rachel Garshick Kleit, Anaid Yerena

Decreasing federal resources since the 1980s, policy devolution to the local level, and expansion of market-based approaches for affordable housing delivery have resulted in public housing authorities (PHAs) evolving from public organizations to hybrid organizations that encompass public and private characteristics. Although federal rules guide their implementation of U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) programs, PHAs are created locally under state authorizing legislation. Under what conditions do PHAs create new affordable housing using their ability to employ both public and private means of service delivery? Although PHAs have the ability to create new units outside the traditional assisted stock, no clear estimate of the number of units created using these newer means exists, or even a count of how many PHAs are engaging in such activities. Descriptive analysis allows for estimates of this basic information. A multivariate analysis using data from a national survey of PHAs, content analysis of state enabling legislation, and publicly available data sets suggests that whereas the local market context partially predicts affordable housing ownership outside of the public housing program, state enabling legislation and local institutional relationships also facilitate housing production. We estimate that in 2013, PHAs owned more than 150,000 units outside of the traditional HUD-assisted housing stock.