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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Public housing and rental vouchers constitute two distinct forms of housing subsidy in the United States. Public housing, the nation’s oldest housing program for low-income renters provides affordable housing to about 1.2 million households in developments ranging in size from a single unit to multibuilding complexes with hundreds of apartments. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, founded more than 35 years after the start of public housing is now the nation’s largest rental subsidy program. It enables around 2 million low-income households to rent privately owned housing anywhere in the country. Although both programs provide low-income households with “deep” subsidies that ensure they spend no more than 30 percent of their adjusted income on rent, and both are operated by local public housing authorities, they offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. This chapter reviews and compares the two programs, examining their design, evolution, and strengths and weaknesses, including issues of racial segregation and concentrated poverty.

Keywords: affordable housing, housing choice vouchers, housing programs, housing vouchers, low-income, poverty, public housing, project-based housing subsidies, racial segregation, rental housing, subsidized housing

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