U.S. Housing Policy Jun 02, 2015 By Edgar O. OlsenJeff ZabelGiles DurantonJ. Vernon HendersonWilliam Strange (Eds.) U.S. Housing Policy Governments throughout the world intervene heavily in housing markets, and most have multiple policies to pursue multiple goals. This chapter deals with two of the largest types of housing policies in the United States, namely, low-income rental assistance and policies to promote homeownership through interventions in mortgage markets. We describe the rationales for the policies, the nature of the largest programs involved, the empirical evidence on their effects, and the data and methods used to obtain them. Because the U.S. government uses such a wide range of policies of these types, this evidence has lessons for housing policy in other countries. Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics 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 Jeff Zabel Giles Duranton J. Vernon Henderson William Strange (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.