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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 13


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Market-Driven Public Housing Reforms: Inadequacy for Poverty Alleviation

Amy T. Khare
University of Chicago

These comments relate to the articles in this Cityscape symposium by Basolo, by Skobba and Goetz, and by Oakley, Ruel, and Reid.

The three preceding articles in this symposium raise the similar question of how very low-income households (some of whom move with the assistance of the Housing Choice Voucher Program [HCVP]) fare across a range of potential outcomes, including employment, residential stability, housing satisfaction, school quality, and neighborhood economic conditions. In this commentary, I first briefly frame the historical and political context that led to public housing policy reforms, before summarizing the findings from the three articles in this section. Coinciding with the implications suggested by the authors, I make strategic recommendations for programmatic and structural changes that aim to create greater access to affordable rental apartments and to supportive housing interventions. My central argument throughout this commentary is that market-based housing strategies aimed at mobility alone will not significantly shift economic and social outcomes for extremely low-income households. As these articles suggest, poverty alleviation requires more than access to private-market rental housing. In closing, I offer policy recommendations that aim to reallocate federal housing assistance by increasing the supply of affordable housing units, providing universal tax incentives for renters, expanding the use of vouchers to unsaturated neighborhoods, and creating supportive housing interventions to address deep and persistent poverty.

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