Congress authorized the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) in 2012 to help address a large and growing backlog of capital needs in public housing projects. The program allows public housing authorities to convert their public housing to project-based Section 8 contracts.
This report responds to Congress’s request to evaluate the impact of RAD “on the preservation and improvement of public housing, the amount of private sector leveraging as a result of such conversion, and the effect of such conversion on tenants.” It shows that as of October 2018, over 100,000 units of public housing had been converted to the Section 8 platform under RAD. In addition, over $12.6 billion had been raised, with significant leverage, from numerous sources to improve the physical and financial condition of properties, which would have otherwise continued to decline. The report confirmed that the physical and financial conditions of converted properties improved.
In a survey of tenants at a sample of RAD-converted properties, a majority reported that the physical condition of their units and their developments was better after conversion. More than 80 percent expressed satisfaction with their units and developments post conversion, and more than 80 percent remained in the same property throughout the RAD conversion process, either because they never moved or because they moved to a different unit in the same property. Because RAD conversions were too recent, tenants were not yet eligible to exercise the Choice Mobility option, which allows residents of converted housing to request a voucher to use in the private rental market. A slight majority of surveyed tenants, though, reported that they had not been informed about the Choice Mobility option during the RAD process even though it was a required element of communication for public housing authorities. A slight majority said they would prefer the Choice Mobility option to living in their current unit. The findings on how RAD might affect tenant well-being—employment, health, and perceptions of safety—are unclear. What is clear, however, is that many of the surveyed tenants were vulnerable, with most cycling in and out of jobs and reporting fair or poor health and a substantial minority reporting feeling unsafe, especially outside at night. These findings reinforce the importance of ensuring that housing authorities make addressing tenants’ needs a central part of their RAD planning.
You can read the report on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's website (this link will direct you to an external site).