Among its many responsibilities, the Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees public housing in the United States. Although most logistics are handled by the nation’s thousands of local public housing authorities, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center coordinates the physical inspections of all public housing properties.

These inspections aim to assess whether the properties are “decent, safe, and sanitary.” They are supposed to be conducted by professional, independent inspectors every 1-3 years (with lower-performing properties inspected more often than higher-scoring properties) and are distinct from the routine inspections a building manager or local government might conduct. Inspectors examine the property site, building exteriors, building systems (e.g., heating system, elevators), common areas, and a selection of housing units. A list of the most common deficiencies can be found here.

The results of every inspection are collected via a tool called RAPID and fed into the agency’s Physical Assessment Subsystem Server. Per HUD:

RAPID is a tool utilized by inspectors to record & process inspection data. The software downloads Inspection Data from the server, record/update Inspection Profile, Property Profile, Participants Profile, Certificates, Building Profile and records observations in the Building System, Building Exteriors, Common Areas and Units. Once all inspectable areas are completed, users can upload the completed inspection to the Physical Assessment Subsystem Server to be process[ed], reviewed, scored and released to Multifamily or PHAS.

Unfortunately, HUD releases very limited information about the results of the inspections — only top-level scores, as far as we can tell. But public housing residents and other members of the public deserve to know much more.

Our FOIA request 📄 to HUD seeks all database records in the Physical Assessment Subsystem (excluding data fields containing personally identifying information), plus all relevant database documentation.

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