Title:Housing Policy at a Crossroads: The Why, Who, and How of Assistance Programs
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Since the New Deal, the goal of American housing policy has been to provide adequate housing for the poor. In light of the recent economic recession, however, housing policy needs a new vision. The beliefs of urban reformers in the 1930s — specifically, that building good housing for the poor would significantly ameliorate crime, unemployment, and poor health — are unfounded. Federal housing aid has failed to revitalize poor neighborhoods or stimulate the economy, and recent efforts to treat housing assistance as an antipoverty program have had little success thus far.
In Housing Policy at a Crossroads: The Why, How, and Who of Assistance Programs, John C. Weicher persuasively makes the case for vouchers as the solution to the 21st century housing policy impasse. Weicher, a former assistant secretary of housing at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), argues that vouchers provide the greatest choice to the poor at the lowest cost to the taxpayer, and addresses affordability more directly and effectively than the subsidized production programs that dominated past housing policy. Building on his extensive experience at HUD, Weicher convincingly demonstrates that such projects are not only expensive, but frequently fail to revive the decaying neighborhoods they intend to improve.
At once a history of US housing policy, a guide to the issues confronting policymakers, and a keen argument for the merits of housing vouchers, Housing at a Crossroads issues a timely call to learn from the ineffectiveness of past housing policy — not repeat it.
John C. Weicher is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Housing and Financial Markets. Previously, he served as assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.