Eighty public housing authority officials are paid more than $200,000 annually and 340 receive more than $150,000 every year, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data.
At least 74 of the public housing executives were paid annual bonuses in excess of $25,000, with four getting bonuses of more than $75,000. The median annual household income for a typical U.S. family last year was $54,000.
The compensation data included entries for 9,814 public housing executives.
Little attention is typically paid to what public housing executives earn, but that may soon change. A June 2015 Supreme Court decision said federal officials can order measures intended to desegregate neighborhoods even when there is no evidence that existing policies were intended to promote racial discrimination in housing.
The 5-4 decision came as HUD’s $50 billion public housing subsidy program moves from an older model based on congregating low-income residents in large self-contained projects in cities to giving individuals vouchers that can be used to occupy smaller urban units and suburban homes.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, HUD officials, led by Secretary Julian Castro, moved to complete adoption of a controversial “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation that critics say will put federal officials in charge of determining acceptable racial demographics on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
That means the decisions of the government employees included in the public housing executives compensation database will likely have greater impact on jurisdictions where low-income assistance issues aren’t the norm.
Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out in his dissent in the case that “the Court has repeatedly reaffirmed that ‘racial balancing’ by ‘state actors’ is ‘patently unconstitutional,’ even when it springs from supposedly good intentions.”
The consequences of moving public housing away from large inner city projects to smaller urban units in the suburbs are not yet clear, but a key concern that has arisen is crime rates. A 2012 study by researchers at the Urban Institute and Emory University found that “in Chicago, a neighborhood with more than two to six relocated households per 1000 families had a 5 percent higher violent crime rate than a similar neighborhood without relocated households.”
In neighborhoods with “more than 14 relocated public housing households per 1000 households [there was] a 21 percent higher violent crime rate than a similar neighborhood without relocated public housing residents,” the study found.
The public housing executive data covers total compensation for officials working for 3,345 public housing authorities (PHA) across the nation for fiscal year 2014, the latest available year. Data for another 615 PHAs is not included because HUD officials couldn’t verify the accuracy of the numbers reported to them. Federal tax dollars provide most of the funding for PHAs.
Congress capped federally funded total compensation for PHA officials at $158,700, which is equivalent to the government’s Executive Level IV pay rate. Additional compensation for PHAs can be paid from state or local government sources.
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