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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the nature and role of housing programs for low-income households in the rich democracies. It first describes the characteristics of housing and why these can be problematic for people living in poverty before discussing the social construction of “the housing question.” It then explores private and public responses to these problematic aspects of housing. Private “solutions” include poor dwelling conditions, undermaintenance, overcrowding, high rent-to-income ratios, and homelessness. Public “solutions” include public health regulations, minimum building standards, rent controls, public housing, housing vouchers, and tax expenditures. The article shows that some public solutions have been regarded as the causes of other “poverty problems”—including high levels of joblessness and ethnic segregation—that have in turn been the subject of policy responses. Finally, it analyzes housing affordability as well as the impact of housing allowances and mortgage subsidies in relation to poverty.

Keywords: housing programs, low-income households, housing, poverty, housing question, joblessness, ethnic segregation, housing affordability, housing allowances, mortgage subsidies

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