Housing the Urban Poor
The purpose of this book is to carry out a comparative evaluation of alternative strategies for housing the urban poor. Whether the locus of policy making remains at the federal level or is shifted to the states and municipalities through revenue sharing, government officials confront the prospect of unprecedented discretion in the allocation of housing and community development funds. This book provides a basis for exercising this discretion by contrasting the performance of new construction, rehabilitation, and direct rental assistance programs.
After describing the alternative strategies, the author undertakes a comparative analysis of their performance on the basis of economic, environmental, and social impacts. The analysis answers such questions as: Which strategy most improves the housing and financial position of the poor? How much of the total housing subsidy dollar actually reaches the assisted households? Who benefits from the respective subsidized housing programs? What are the effects on the municipal treasury? How many and what type of jobs are created through new construction, rehabilitation, and direct rental assistance? What is the least costly strategy? How adaptable are the alternative approaches to changing housing market conditions? What are the locational and environmental effects? And what is the comparative impact on racial and economic dispersal?
On the basis of the foregoing analysis the author sets forth what appears to be the most promising direction for federal (state and local) housing policy. He proposes that instead of continuing to rely, almost exclusively, on the construction of new low-income housing, government policy should emphasize the use and upgrading of the existing housing stock. This would be accomplished by a combination of direct rent subsidies and the leasing of private dwellings, accompanied by efforts to remove housing and capital market barriers and coordination with community development activities under a local environmental management plan.
This book provides a sound technical analysis of the alternative strategies for housing the Urbana poor and is a timely addition to the current reevaluation of national housing policy.