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FIGURE 1 Change in Households Assisted: Major Housing Assistance Programs (millions of assisted households)









1993 2007

1993 2007

1993 2007

Public housing


Privately owned


1995 2005

Tax credit (LIHTC)

Sources: For first three programs, 1993 data from HUD (1997b) and 2007 data from HUD (2007b); for LIHTC, phone interview with Michael Hollar, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, August 2008.

or sale of other deteriorated projects without re- placement. The estimated result of these changes was a decline of about 140,000 public housing units between 1995 and 2007, reducing the total stock from 1.33 million to 1.19 million units.13 As figure 1 shows, the number of households living in pub- lic housing dropped from 1.14 million in 1993 to 1.05 million in 2007.14

The number of households receiving vouchers grew substantially during the 1990s and through the early years of this decade, in part because PHAs received extra vouchers to relocate public housing residents displaced by HOPE VI. More recently, however, federal budget pressures have curtailed any further expansion of the voucher program. Altogether, the total number of voucher holders grew from 1.20 million in 1993 to 1.97 million in 2007, a 64 per- cent increase in 14 years.

Almost no units have been added to the stock of privately owned subsidized units since the early 1980s,15 but units are being removed from this inven- tory. As discussed earlier, these projects receive assis- tance under multiyear contracts between the private owners and HUD. When those contracts expire, they are often renewed, but owners can also “opt out” at that point. Especially in markets where property values are rising or the surrounding neighborhood is in particular demand, owners may have strong finan-

cial incentives to let their subsidy commitments expire. Estimates indicate that the number of households living in these assisted properties has dropped from 1.72 million in 1993 to 1.29 million by 2007, a decline of 25 percent over 14 years.

Taken together, growth in the voucher program over the past decade and a half has been almost completely offset by the loss of deep, project-based subsidies. The total number of households receiving deep, gap-filling assistance increased only 6 percent— from 4.06 million in 1993 to 4.30 million in 2007— despite the vast expansion in needs discussed earlier. In contrast, the LIHTC program, which began in 1987, reached a cumulative total of 430,000 units in 1995 and then expanded to 1.53 million in 2005, an increase of 356 percent over a decade.

Although federally subsidized housing can be found in city, suburban, and nonmetropolitan communities all over the country, it is disproportionately located in central cities. Public housing in particular is con- centrated in poor, inner-city neighborhoods in the northeast and midwest (table 4).16 When public hous- ing was first introduced, it primarily targeted the older industrial cities of the northeast and midwest, where housing problems were severe. The younger, grow- ing cities of the west received relatively little public housing, and California actually banned the construc- tion of public housing. Accordingly, only 9 percent





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