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U.S. Needs New Approach To Deal With Affordable Housing Crisis

The only way to deal with the affordable housing crisis in the U.S. is to involve the federal government and come up with a new approach.

March 25, 2024

The housing crisis in the U.S. is growing serious day by day. A recent report revealed that 12% of the city’s population which means nearly 82,000 residents do not have stable housing. The majority of people in District Columbia reveal that housing insecurity is among people of color.

The Biden-Harris administration cannot ignore housing insecurity as it affects the confidence America has in its economy. This is why the administration announced a series of policy proposals on Thursday that deployed a public-private approach emphasizing changing zoning, expanding financing options for affordable housing, and conversion of empty spaces into housing.

Without any doubt, the Biden administration is taking the housing crisis seriously but history reveals that attempts to address housing problems have repeatedly enriched the private sector and did little to those who need government assistance the most.

The federal government should create programs that recognize housing as a right and not a commodity. The administration also announced his proposal advocating for the “Green New Deal of Public Housing” legislation. Some legislators have started recognizing the role public housing will play if the administration can solve the housing crisis.

Public Housing was an effort by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Administration to provide temporary housing to struggling Americans. It was a small program that benefitted working-class whites but this changed after the war. The funds were given by the federal government to increase public housing units and address the housing shortage.

Unfortunately, these projects experienced problems of segregation and discrimination and fell into despair due to limited funds for construction and maintenance. Later on, a law was passed by Congress raising the cap on rents to 30% of the household’s income which in turn increased the rent for people.

The federal government instead of improving tried to turn away from constructing, owning, and managing public housing. They resorted to private market tools such as vouchers and subsidies to make housing affordable.

Poor families and low-income households had to meet a stringent set of requirements to qualify for the houses such as having no criminal record, having a job, or being enrolled in an employment training program.

Many people received Section 8 vouchers to rent homes but experienced discrimination during their housing search.

The policymakers from Los Angeles to Rhode Island have launched a series of innovative campaigns to come up with alternative ways to increase affordable housing that go beyond family zoning laws and allow for the construction of Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADUs).

The new programs vary significantly. Montgomery County, Md., has broken ground on several new mixed-income, government-owned projects on one end of the spectrum but the projects still rely on a public-private model which in turn makes them unlikely to eliminate the past problems.

On the other end of the spectrum, housing groups such as Kansas City-based KC Tenants are doing the work. Social housing can undo the mistakes of the postwar era.

Besides this, the federal government needs to be involved in such programs to truly solve the affordable housing crisis. The problem is too large for the states and localities to tackle. The policymaker can think big by imagining and designing a federal initiative and learning from past mistakes.

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The content provided in this article draws inspiration and includes quotes from various reputable sources, including news articles, government data, and interviews. Affordable Housing 411 strives to ensure accuracy and credibility, but the information presented may be based on some external sources. We encourage readers to refer to the referenced materials for more in-depth insights and verification.

Geismer Lily. “America Needs a New Approach on Affordable Housing. History Offers a Guide”. Aol, March 25, 2024,
America Needs a New Approach on Affordable Housing. History Offers a Guide (aol.com)

Last Updated: September 20, 2021