of these changes, according to the Urban Institute, is that "beneficiaries will be increasingly impoverished" ( Struyk et al., 1983: 67).
In attempting to focus resources only on the poorest of the poor, benefits have been reduced for those in the upper ranks of the lower class. For example, HUD has limited families with incomes between 50 percent and 80 percent of area medians to only 10 percent of housing that becomes available for occupancy. Linked with the HUD forecast that fully 80 percent of the over 100,000 tenants who are expected to leave public housing during the next several years will be from this category (where one finds the largest proportion of both stable families and employed tenants), public housing will become further confined to only the most impoverished. Thus, the Reagan administration will further accelerate the trend that has been evident since 1950.
The EHAP experiment from the preceding decade serves as a model for the direction that this administration would like to move housing policy. Though they have not to date been legislatively successful in implementing a voucher program, this is the course they want to pursue. However, as critics stress, there are weaknesses in the approach that can have a particularly negative impact on racial minorities. First, adequate mechanisms are lacking to redress private landlord discrimination. Second, it is argued that there is not an adequate supply of housing in the private sector to house certain hard-to-place cases, such as large families ( Boyd, 1984).
By relying on the existing stock, there is an implicit assumption that housing trickles down to the lower class after the middle class has left it for new housing. However, a host of factors, including location and cost, serve to suggest that this does not occur. By seeking to disengage government from either the construction or management of housing, there is an equally unsupported assumption that, standing outside the market, such housing will be more expensive than it otherwise would be. This is not the case. Despite its manifold problems, public housing has proven to be the least costly form of subsidized housing. Nonetheless, these and similar assumptions underpin policy initiatives of the 1980s.
As this historical review indicates, the public housing program during the past fifty years has been an extremely important provider of affordable housing for low-income black citizens. At the same time, it is a program that has been incapable of eliciting widespread public support. This lack of support has been due largely to the power of the ideology of the unfettered market combined with the enduring problem of race prejudice and discrimination. Though the private sector has provided no evidence that, if left to its own devices, it would be capable or interested in providing decent and affordable housing for the poor, it traditionally has been unresponsive to