• The paper summarizes the history of public housing since its inception in the 1930s up to the present day. It is shown how legislation, private sector lobbying, lack of financing, management corruption and other factors resulted in physical distress of housing stock and social distress of residents. President Nixon’s supply-oriented reforms such as Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 and President Clinton’s “reinvention plan” for public housing are further discussed. Finally, the paper discusses housing vouchers and certificates, which were introduced in the 105th Congress and are likely to be enacted.
• The authors find that housing vouchers and certificates would target the poorest of the poor, reduce concentrations of poverty throughout the country, and introduce market competition into public housing.
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