The City as a Human Environment

By Duane G. Levine; Arthur C. Upton | Go to book overview

4
AFFORDABLE HOUSING

KERRON R. BARNES

In recent years the need for housing, in terms of supply, has again become a public issue that has risen beyond the special interests of the poor seeking or living in public housing. Today, seniors, young families, middle-class renters, and the homeless alike are increasingly unsure if they will find housing. For the first time in a generation, homeownership is in decline.

As the issue has grown in dimension in the public and media consciousness, there has risen a considerable new debate over the nature of the problem. In general, this has boiled down to two positions. On one side the position commonly supported by housing advocates is that new housing supply is needed, including large-scale production programs. The position supported by many others is that affordability, not supply, is the problem, and that more income in the form of housing vouchers will allow the poor to find shelter as provided by the private sector. The basic position of the first group is that people are homeless because there isn't enough housing to go around; the second group claims that people are homeless because they don't have the money to pay for housing which is there.

The latter theory has been in ascendancy in recent years due to a variety of factors, including a conservative Republican Administration, the perception of poor results from expensive supply programs such as public housing, and the unwillingness of Congress to embark on expensive new initiatives in the face of a massive federal deficit.

A contributing element is that in recent years, much media attention

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