More than 550 properties operated by 140 separate public housing authorities in 39 states and territories will be inspected in the next five months to assess the condition and needs of the public housing portfolio.

The study is the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) first large-scale assessment in more than a decade and the first that will look out 20 years, according to CAS Financial Advisory Services (CAS FAS).

Together with the prime contractor, Abt Associates, which will be responsible for data integration and cost extrapolation, CAS FAS will assess the condition of the portfolio and the funding needs.

The findings will give Congress and HUD an estimate of the capital backlog.

“If you had an aging portfolio of over 1.3 million apartments, wouldn’t you want to know how many billions of dollars are needed to bring the properties across the country back up to good physical condition going forward?” said David A. Smith, CEO of CAS FAS. “Congress does, and the short answer is ‘no one knows.’ That will change once we’ve completed our inspections, and the data have been analyzed. We’ll have accurate numbers for the first time.”

Home to more than 4 million, the public housing inventory is roughly 50 years old and varies in age, quality, maintenance record, and condition.

“Our inspectors will visit a statistically valid sample of 550 properties, which includes all the very large ones, operated by over 140 housing authorities across the country,” said Jed Lowry, CAS FAS’ director of capital planning. “At each property, they’ll inspect a subset of buildings and apartments, using a consistent data collection instrument applied in a standardized way. The results will be rolled up and analyzed to extrapolate portfolio-level scope and cost statistics.”

Boston-based CAS FAS, formerly Recap Advisors, is the financial services and asset management group of CAS Partners.

Green planning tool

The firm also announced the launching of its Green Capital Needs Assessment (CNA), which aims to help residential building owners and managers make decisions about the costs and benefits of going green.

Based on a building inspection and an extensive building cost database, each assessment will provide a quantitative cost-benefit analysis of possible green improvements and recommendations, said the firm.

Green CNAs are estimated to cost between $10,000 and $14,500, depending principally on property size.

Company officials said that a key of the new product is its side-by-side comparison of green and in-kind replacement systems, with costs calculated out for 20 years.