Public Housing Cost Study

Congress charged Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) with determining what it should cost to operate well-run public housing. The GSD contracted with Compass to undertake independent research on operating expenses for private market rate, private federally assisted and public housing; and to conduct field research at selected public housing authorities. Compass obtained large private operating cost databases, conducted sophisticated and rigorous analysis of those databases, acted as a lead advisor to the School in designing the research protocols, and participated in field studies of housing authorities.

Compass’ analysis led to formulas for predicting the operating expenses (before real estate taxes and utilities) of private market rate apartments and private federally assisted apartments, and ultimately to HUD’s Public Housing Asset Management Program—the basis for converting to property-based finance and operations. This assignment drew upon Compass’ contacts in the industry, its experience working with large databases, its knowledge of the full array of property types, and its expertise in property operations. Additionally, Compass interviewed public and private operators of housing, conducted focus groups, and advised the Study on communicating results to the public.

Compass supplemented its deep practical knowledge of operating costs and property management by conducting original research to isolate the key drivers of operating costs for apartment properties. Compass also demonstrated the ability to quickly produce innovative and cutting-edge work that would underlay transformative change to a major sector of the housing industry.

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