Alleviating Poverty through Housing Policy Reform

The purpose of this paper is to describe proposals for reform of low-income housing assistance that will alleviate poverty without increasing public spending. Low-income housing assistance is fertile ground for such reforms. The majority of current recipients are served by programs whose cost is enormously excessive for the housing provided. Phasing out these programs in favor of the system’s most cost-effective program would ultimately free up the resources to provide housing assistance to millions of additional people (Olsen 2014). Furthermore, the current system of low-income housing assistance provides enormous subsidies to some households while offering none to others who are equally poor, and it provides subsidies to many people who are not poor while offering none to many of the poorest. Avoiding these excessive subsidies and focusing assistance on the poorest families will contribute further to poverty alleviation. Well-designed reforms of the current system of low-income housing assistance would produce substantial poverty alleviation without greater public spending.