One of the main goals of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is to help public housing agencies (PHAs) address the large backlog of capital needs that has accumulated over many decades within the public housing program. And, one of the areas that has suffered the most as a result of this disinvestment has been curb appeal. Consequently, we thought it would be helpful to provide some examples – from within the public housing community – of PHAs who have been able to demonstrate good practices of curb appeal, which might then inform future RAD conversion planning activities.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, curb appeal is defined as the visual attractiveness of a property as viewed from the street. That attractiveness is greatly dictated not just by the landscaping, but also by the physical appearance of the buildings and the cleanliness and tidiness of the grounds. Lots of little visual cues shape our perception of whether a project has curb appeal – whether, for example, the sidewalks are edged, the shrubs are pruned or the roofs free of debris. Thus, curb appeal is very closely associated with, or an extension of, good property management. In fact, as we learn from our case stories, a lot of what goes into good curb appeal is being fussy and attentive. And, in order to be fussy and attentive, one also tends to need strong site-based management systems, with dedicated staffing and budgets; competent, well-supervised on-site staff; and appropriate management support systems.
There is overwhelming consensus among affordable housing practitioners that a project’s curb appeal is important for a number of reasons, including:
- Higher resident retention – When residents are satisfied with where they live, they tend to move less frequently.
- Improved resident upkeep – When residents have strong, positive feelings about their community, they are also more likely to keep the project in good shape.
- Reduced crime – Resident satisfaction and feelings of community identification are a strong deterrent to crime.
What’s more, the better that public housing properties are managed and kept, the more that we can engender public support for our affordable housing programs, which is important to all of us.
Have you made significant changes in the appearance of your property? Have you demonstrated good practices of "curb appeal"? We'd love to hear your stories! Send your project information and pictures to RADCurbAppeal@hud.gov with the subject, "The Curb Appeal Project" and you could be one of our "featured PHAs."
For the initial launch of The Curb Appeal Project, we feature the following agencies. For more information, click on the links below.