Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation

Opening Statement of Chairman Wayne Allard (R-CO)

Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation
Oversight of HUDís Public Housing Assessment System
March 21, 2000

I would like to welcome each of you to this hearing of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee. In particular, I want to thank the housing authorities for being here today. They have all come a considerable distance to testify before the subcommittee.

I would like to extend a special welcome to one of my constituents, Mr. Charles Schloz. Charles is the Assistant Chief Operating Officer for Housing Management at the Denver Housing Authority. The Denver Housing Authority has been serving citizens since 1938, and I appreciate the work that they do. The Denver Housing Authority has also been recognized nationally for their excellence, including being named a high performer by HUD every year since 1994. I am pleased to have the Denver Housing Authority here with us today, and I would like to thank Mr. Schloz for coming.

Todayís hearing will focus on HUDís Public Housing Assessment System, also known as PHAS. My office has been inundated with mail from public housing authorities questioning HUDís implementation of PHAS. Nearly all of the letters requested a hearing, so we have assembled the Subcommittee to take a closer look at the issues raised by the housing authorities. I recognize that many housing authorities have strong feelings on PHAS. Unfortunately, we were unable to invite them all to testify. Therefore, I will keep the hearing record open for ten days, until April 4th, should any of these public housing authorities wish to submit written testimony.

Over the years, the federal government has invested billions of dollars in public housing. Until now, we have not had any way to get a comprehensive look at the state of that investment. I strongly support a system that provides a means to measure the state of Americaís public housing stock.

It is critical, however, that any system be a fair, accurate, consistent measure of the stock. If a system is not fair or accurate not only are the results meaningless as a measure of the status of the housing stock, they could actually be misleading as a basis for policy decisions.

I believe that HUD has taken an important step towards providing a comprehensive assessment of the nationís public housing stock by creating PHAS; however, I have serious concerns about the fairness, accuracy, consistency, and reliability of PHAS.

Others in Congress share my concern. In the Fiscal Year 2000 VA-HUD Appropriations Conference Report, the conferees directed HUD to delay implementation of PHAS until certain conditions are met. Those conditions have not been met.

The implementation of PHAS continues to be a source of concern to the Senate VA-HUD Appropriations subcommittee. Earlier this month Chairman Bond and Ranking Member Mikulski sent a letter to Secretary Cuomo again directing him to delay implementation of PHAS. I ask unanimous consent that their letter be made a part of the Record.

I urge HUD to delay implementation until the concerns of both Congress and the public housing authorities have been thoroughly addressed. The difference between a fair, accurate system could mean the difference of millions of dollars for public housing authorities. Therefore, it is important that PHAS is refined before it is put into place.

Today we will be hearing from four different housing authorities. They come from different parts of the country and cities of different sizes; however, they all recognize the important role that PHAS can play in quality public housing. Therefore, they are concerned that any public housing assessment system be understandable, fair, and accurate. I appreciate their willingness to come here today to share their thoughts on where the system is and how it can be improved.

First, we have Mr. Charles Schloz of the Denver Housing Authority. He will be followed by Mr. Hal Rose who is the Executive Director of the Temple Housing Authority in Temple, Texas. Next, we have Mr. Allen Hester, the Assistant to the Executive Director at the St. Paul Public Housing Agency of St. Paul, Minnesota. Our final housing authority is the Stratford Housing Authority of Stratford, Connecticut, which is represented by Mr. Kevin Nelson, the Director.

Finally, we will hear from Mr. Harold Lucas, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing. Mr. Lucas has requested to testify last today, so we will allow him to do so.

Please proceed Mr. Schloz.