Classic Case - Managing the Boston Housing Authority: Note on Federal Public Housing Policy (1937-1980)

Managing the Boston Housing Authority: Note on Federal Public Housing Policy (1937-1980)


Educator Access
A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to this material.

Permission to Reprint
Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use. If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase permission for each individual who will be given access. Learn more about purchasing permission to reprint.

  • Product Description

    In l980, Lewis Spence was named receiver of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), the fourth largest public housing authority in the US. After over five years of litigation in a class action suit brought by tenants, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Paul Garrity had suspended the BHA's governing board and ordered the authority into receivership. Spence faced the formidable task of bringing the BHA's housing units into compliance with state and federal housing regulations. The BHA had a vacancy rate twice that of any other large authority, an operating deficit of almost $5 million, and a housing stock of 67 public developments in a condition of (in Garrity's words) "shocking physical decay," brought on by inadequate maintenance and rampant vandalism. This case provides a closer look at the woeful condition of the authority, and surveys the main issues facing Spence as he began his tenure as receiver.

    Learning Objective:
    The case presents an especially complex problem. It offers students the opportunity to sort out priorities, determine managerial and political strategies, and explore and test tactics. Because it demands a certain level of skill in sorting through the data and detail, it will probably be most effective if set in the middle or toward the end of a course. A background note on federal public housing policy is also available.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1985
    HKS Case Number: 626.0
    Case Author: Esther Scott
    Faculty Lead: Mark Moore
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 13
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: Older than 2000
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
  • Warranty Information