More About HUD Data
A couple of notes about the HUD data.
Public housing: Prior to 2007, HUD inspected public housing complexes individually. After that, HUD began using a different system that, in many cases, grouped two or more into a single “project” for the purposes of funding and inspections. For instance, in the East St. Louis Housing Authority in Illinois, the John Robinson Homes and the John DeShields Homes, which had received different scores under the old plan, now are combined into one “project” and are inspected jointly. This property will show up in this tool as the John DeShields Homes, although the inspection report behind the score will show any deficiencies cited at both developments.
The larger the housing authority, the more complicated this can get. The New York City Housing Authority, for instance, manages 325 apartment complexes, and some of those contain multiple buildings. Yet, HUD only issues about 160 inspection scores for them. The report will list addresses where HUD inspectors assessed buildings and/or units.
Based on HUD’s datasets, we’ve done our best to provide information about the buildings included in each “project,” if it’s not specifically listed. If you are unable to locate your building, you should be able to ask your housing authority or HUD for help.
Multifamily: Our analysis of HUD’s multifamily datasets included only those properties with active project-based subsidy contracts under Section 8 and a handful of other programs. Therefore, there are a number of additional properties listed on HUD’s multifamily datasets that no longer have active subsidy contracts because they aged out of the program or their contracts were ended because of unaddressed poor conditions.
How the inspection works: Inspection scores take into account five areas: the property’s site (such as playgrounds, vegetation), buildings’ exteriors, building systems (such as plumbing and electrical), the condition of common areas, and the condition of units. For most properties, only a small percentage of units are inspected. Depending on the size and makeup of a property, a maximum point value is assigned to each area. Further, each unit inspected has a maximum point value assigned to it. If an inspector finds more problems in a unit than the possible points assigned to it, the point value for that unit would be recorded as zero. This is how some properties are able to pass even while inspectors note numerous serious health and safety deficiencies inside units.
How housing authority scoring works: Scores for housing authorities take into account the following four areas, which can add up to 100 points:
- Physical Assessment Subsystem (40 points): Determines whether public housing units are decent, safe, sanitary and in good repair, in accordance with housing condition standards. The score is determined by a weighted average of the individual scores assigned to each property.
- Financial Assessment Subsystem (25 points): Measures the financial condition of each public housing project. Housing authorities provide unaudited and audited financial data to HUD twice a year.
- Management Assessment Subsystem (25 points): Assesses the housing authority’s management operations, as well as that of each property. The management indicator is determined by looking at such factors as occupancy rates, tenant accounts receivable and accounts payable.
- Capital Fund Program (10 points): Examines the period of time it takes a PHA to use the funds provided to it from the Capital Fund program. Ultimately, the purpose is for PHAs to obligate 90 percent or more of these funds as quickly as possible, and no later than two years after funds become available.
Note: This database contains all inspection reports made available to the public by HUD from 2013 to March 2018. If a property is inspected multiple times within a short time period, it is possible that HUD has not publicly released all of those inspection scores. Data for multifamily complexes only includes facilities with an active HUD contract.
For a week in the summer of 2018, the news applications team at ProPublica, as well as members of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network staff, gathered in New York to build an interactive database together. Major parts of HUD Inspect were completed in that week.
The contributors participating in our “Hack Week” were: Katlyn Alapati, Setareh Baig, Lilia Chang, Sophie Chou, David Eads, Rachel Glickhouse, Corey Jeffers, Ryann Jones, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee, Ally Levine, Jeremy Merrill, Rahima Nasa, Beena Raghavendran, Frank Sharpe, Al Shaw, Mike Tigas, Sisi Wei and Derek Willis.