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United States Housing: A Policy Analysis

By Sonia A. Montero


The United States' housing voucher program was established and expanded in the 1980s at which time the national housing problem was mainly one of affordability, and not availability. In accordance with the President's Commission on Housing's recommendations, the leading program to assist low-income families acquire decent\ud housing became a consumer-oriented housing assistance grant to augment the family's\ud purchasing power. Today, the United States' housing problems are far more numerous and severe than they were only a decade ago; they signify a housing crisis of dramatic proportions. Presently, the leading causes of contemporary housing problems are the\ud inadequate incomes of low-income households and the lack of affordable housing.\ud Despite the numerous problems confronting poor renter households (homelessness,\ud overcrowding, excessive cost burdens, and inadequate housing), the Department of Housing and Urban Development is embarking on a reinvention plan whose solution is limited to an emphasis on work and responsibility. The widely held conservative notion, that project-based housing assistance such as public housing weakens incentives to work\ud and encourages dependency, has culminated in the support for a "Movement to Independence Initiative". This paper is an evaluation of the reinvention plan which consolidates a myriad of\ud project-based assistance programs into one main rental assistance program, the Housing\ud Certificate Fund. My research suggests that this plan will result in even more limited\ud assistance to poor renter households. Those project-based subsidies which are kept in\ud existence by the blueprint (i.e. Affordable Housing Fund and the Community Opportunity Fund) will be inadequate and ineffective in dealing with the lack of affordable housing, and shall not meet the needs of the poorest. In conclusion, low-income households will have greater difficulty securing decent affordable housing. I propose that the public\ud housing program should be maintained in its present state with some variation. Public housing would adequately confront the housing crisis if it was not concentrated in poverty-stricken areas and if developments were smaller

Year: 1995
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