The Uncharted, Uncertain Future Of HOPE VI Redevelopments
The Case for Assessing Project Sustainability

Publication (Report)

The HOPE VI program—administered since 1992 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—has generally been effective in supporting the demolition of many of the largest, most dilapidated, and highly concentrated public housing developments in the nation and replacing them with smaller-scale, visually more appealing, mixed-income properties. Public investment in HOPE VI has been substantial; the private investment has been even greater. While the importance of a program that redevelops dilapidated and obsolete housing is generally acknowledged, more than a decade and a half after the program’s initiation it is not a foregone conclusion, or otherwise obvious, that properties redeveloped under it can be sustained over time.

 

Sustainability is not simply a function of the redevelopment underwriting or financing that is utilized or the architectural attractiveness of the buildings that result, but also of significant challenges inherent in the program. The latter derive from the public-private relationships that are involved and the mixed-income and mixed-tenure character of the redevelopments. These features are, on the one hand, program strengths but, on the other, challenges to project management and financial stability. As such, a proper third-party assessment of HOPE VI redevelopments is essential to identification of sustainability obstacles—before they become intractable and a public liability. Given the features of HOPE VI, the appropriate question is not whether a sustainability assessment is needed but how it should be done.

TitleThe Uncharted, Uncertain Future Of HOPE VI Redevelopments
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMcFarland, Margaret, Martin D. Abravanel, and Diane K. Levy
Pagination38
Date Published04/2009
InstitutionThe Urban Institute
Abstract

The HOPE VI program—administered since 1992 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—has generally been effective in supporting the demolition of many of the largest, most dilapidated, and highly concentrated public housing developments in the nation and replacing them with smaller-scale, visually more appealing, mixed-income properties. Public investment in HOPE VI has been substantial; the private investment has been even greater. While the importance of a program that redevelops dilapidated and obsolete housing is generally acknowledged, more than a decade and a half after the program’s initiation it is not a foregone conclusion, or otherwise obvious, that properties redeveloped under it can be sustained over time.

 

Sustainability is not simply a function of the redevelopment underwriting or financing that is utilized or the architectural attractiveness of the buildings that result, but also of significant challenges inherent in the program. The latter derive from the public-private relationships that are involved and the mixed-income and mixed-tenure character of the redevelopments. These features are, on the one hand, program strengths but, on the other, challenges to project management and financial stability. As such, a proper third-party assessment of HOPE VI redevelopments is essential to identification of sustainability obstacles—before they become intractable and a public liability. Given the features of HOPE VI, the appropriate question is not whether a sustainability assessment is needed but how it should be done.