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Cityscape: Volume 20 Number 3 | Performance of Small Public Housing Authorities: Opportunities and Barriers


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Youth Homelessness

Volume 20, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Performance of Small Public Housing Authorities: Opportunities and Barriers

Andrew J. Greenlee
Han Bum Lee
Paul E. McNamara
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Most public housing authorities in the United States are relatively small, serving less than 1,000 combined households. Research on the performance and operations of housing authorities, however, focuses on very large housing authorities. This article examines small housing authorities’ operational performance and discusses management strengths and challenges associated with running small housing authorities. We draw on HUD administrative data and a series of indepth interviews with housing authority administrators in Illinois to examine housing authority performance metrics and accountability structures. We find that program sociodemographic factors and population served influence the likelihood of receiving high performance designation. Small housing authorities, particularly those in rural areas are less likely to be designated as “high-performing,” and regional heterogeneity affects small housing authority performance levels. Semi-structured interviews with nine executive directors and administrators of small housing authorities in Illinois reveal additional management and accountability challenges, suggesting the need for a more holistic means of assessing housing authority performance and service delivery

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