Performance and Legacy of Housing Policies Jan 01, 2013 By Edgar O. OlsenJens LudwigMartha J. BaileySheldon Danziger (eds) Performance and Legacy of Housing Policies Improving the housing of the poorest families was a high priority for President Lyndon B. Johnson. The widely-publicized problems found in the nation’s most distressed public housing projects, together with the fairly steady official poverty rate in the US since LBJ’s administration, have led many to a pessimistic view about what was accomplished by the War on Poverty’s housing programs for low-income families. The goal of this paper is to provide a balanced account of the housing conditions and policies at the outset of LBJ’s administration, the programs that he created, and the performance and legacy of these programs. LBJ substantially increased the number of low-income households participating in housing programs, which we believe on balance did not accomplish at least one of the goals of the War on Poverty - to increase the earnings of program participants. However, these programs did reduce the level of material deprivation of program participants by simply transferring substantial resources to low-income families. LBJ’s most surprising legacy in the area of low-income housing policy was to increase the reliance of means-tested housing programs on the private housing market. His own initiatives emphasized the construction of privately-owned subsidized projects and single-family units. However, the success of one of his smallest initiatives led to the current housing voucher program, the country’s largest low-income housing program. The shift in the mix of housing assistance, especially towards housing vouchers, greatly reduced the cost of providing equally good housing, thereby making it possible to serve many more families with a given budget, led to significant improvements in the health and well-being of recipients, and (together with LBJ’s civil rights legislation) helped reduce racial and economic segregation in housing. Legacies of the War on Poverty: Future of Anti-Poverty Policies Legacies of the War on Poverty: Future of Anti-Poverty Policies Edgar O. Olsen Ed Olsen is a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Virginia, where he has served as chairman of the economics department and was heavily involved in the creation and development of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Olsen's teaching and research has focused on public policy issues, especially concerning the welfare system. Within this broad area, his research specialty is low-income housing policy. Read full bio Jens Ludwig Martha J. Bailey Sheldon Danziger (eds) Related Content Edgar O. Olsen Does HUD Overpay for Voucher Units, and Will SAFMRs Reduce the Overpayment? Research One argument for Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) is that they would reduce overpayment for voucher units in low-rent neighborhoods. This article provides a more comprehensive theoretical analysis that leads to the conclusion that the worst voucher units and those in the worst neighborhoods will usually rent for more than the mean market rent of identical units, and the best units in the best neighborhoods will rent for less than this amount. Racial Rent Differences in U.S. Housing Markets Research This paper exploits an unusually rich data set to estimate racial differences in the rents paid for identical housing in the same neighborhood in U.S. housing markets and how they vary with neighborhood racial composition. It overcomes the shortcomings of the data used in previous studies. Results suggest that households led by blacks pay more for identical housing in identical neighborhoods than their white counterparts and that this rent gap increases with the fraction of the neighborhood white.