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Housing Policy at a Crossroads

The Why, How, and Who of Assistance Programs

John C. Weicher

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, American housing policy has focused on building homes for the poor. But seventy-five years of federal housing projects have not significantly ameliorated crime, decreased unemployment, or improved health; recent reforms have failed to revitalize low-income neighborhoods or stimulate the economy. To be successful in the twenty-first century, American housing policy must stop reinventing failed programs. Housing Policy at a Crossroads: The Why, How, and Who of Assistance Programs provides a comprehensive survey of past low-income housing programs, including public and subsidized housing, tax credits for developers, and block grants for state and local governments. John C. Weicher's comparative analysis of these programs yields several key conclusions: Affordability, not quality, is the most pressing challenge for housing policy today; of all the housing programs, vouchers have provided the most choice for the poor at the lowest cost to the taxpayer; because vouchers are much less expensive than public or subsidized housing, future subsidized projects would be an inefficient use of resources; vouchers should be offered only to the poorest members of society, ensuring that aid is available to those who need it most. At once a history of housing policy, a guide to issues confronting policymakers, and a case for vouchers as the cheapest, most effective solution, Housing Policy at a Crossroads is a timely warning that reinventing failed building programs would be a very costly wrong turn for America. « less more »
AEI Press
Pages: 350Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8447-4258-8 • Hardback • December 2012 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-8447-4337-0 • eBook • December 2012 • $94.00 • (£65.00)
John C. Weicher is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Housing and Financial Markets.
Weicher (director, Hudson Institute's Center for Housing and Financial Markets) provides an analysis of assistance programs for low-income households in federal housing policy since the early 20th century. The book begins with an appropriate review of the historical development of federal housing programs. Weicher then argues that since FDR's New Deal housing policies, low-income residents of urban neighborhoods have not witnessed improvements in crime,
unemployment, or health. As an economist, the author writes nine chapters to build the argument that federal housing subsidies have been largely ineffective for decades. Weicher asserts that HUD's policies did not induce the production of affordable, decent housing. He argues that the best policy response is to embrace housing vouchers that provide households with greater choice and lower the costs of the housing programs. It is a nice addition to the literature because it contributes to an understanding of the political debate on housing assistance. Practitioners will benefit from the author's experiences. Summing Up: Recommended. Professional collections

Weicher is a wise housing veteran who has worked in the government and in the private sector. This book adds a deep alternative perspective on affordable housing to the perspectives of many books that have been published recently. It cannot only be used as a textbook in graduate classes on housing economics or housing policy but also provides chapters for graduate classes in public finance and budgeting, program evaluation, policy making processes, and perspectives on how Washington works and ‘gets stuff done.’
International Journal of Housing Policy