Pursuing Poverty Deconcentration Distracts from Housing Policy Reforms That Would Have a Greater Effect on Poverty Alleviation

The federal government has multiple housing policies to pursue multiple goals.  For example, it promotes homeownership primarily through provisions of the individual income tax.  If the federal government were to promote poverty deconcentration, it would almost surely do it through its low-income housing programs.  This commentary argues that poverty deconcentration should not be a leading objective of federal housing policy because its benefits to the poor are modest, it is highly controversial, and it distracts attention from important reforms of low-income housing policy that would provide substantial help to low-income households.  Instead of devoting scarce attention to new objectives of limited value, the federal government should be trying to achieve its original objectives in a more cost-effective and equitable manner.  Pursuing this new objective distracts from the main task at hand, namely, delivering more help to the poorest members of society with the limited resources available.  Low-income housing assistance is fertile grounds for such reforms.