Pursuing Poverty Deconcentration Distracts from Housing Policy Reforms That Would Have a Greater Effect on Poverty Alleviation 2014 By Edgar O. Olsen Pursuing Poverty Deconcentration Distracts from Housing Policy Reforms That Would Have a Greater Effect on Poverty Alleviation 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. Cityscape Edgar O. Olsen Ed Olsen is a professor of economics in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he served as chairman of the Department of Economics, and a professor of public policy in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Read full bio Related Content Edgar O. Olsen Racial Rent Differences in U.S. Housing Markets Research Alleviating Poverty through Housing Policy Reform Research 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.