NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Untested New Housing Policy Draws Skeptics

February 25, 2000

Critics say that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is scuttling one failed housing policy in favor of a risky and unproven new one. The department intends to demolish 100,000 high-rise public housing projects -- known as "projects" -- around the country because they became hotbeds of crime. This time, they want to build low-rise units throughout cities -- even in high-income areas.

Real estate and housing specialists warn that these new plans come with their own set of dangers.

  • In many instances, the new units will be built in areas far removed from the community, friends and relatives of those who will occupy them.
  • The products and services offered in high-income areas -- such as expensive restaurants, clothing stores, gyms and boutiques -- are beyond the range of low-income families.
  • The units being planned are no bargain -- with those built in Dallas a few years ago, for example, costing more than $82,000 each.
  • Critics fear that within 10 years, the federal government and the cities will be stuck with tens of thousands of aging units that need untold millions of dollars in renovations.

If the government must subsidize housing for the poor, analysts suggest, why not give them housing vouchers that would allow them to select the location and the domicile that suits their needs best.

Rent bills can be satisfied for many months on $82,000, they argue.

Source: Editorial, "Vouchers Provide a Way Out," Investor's Business Daily, February 25, 2000.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues