The Case for Public Housing by Matthew Gordon Lasner
May 6, 2016
To realize this vision, activists and grassroots groups need to put considerable pressure on federal and state lawmakers to suspend, after more than four decades, the moratorium on deep housing subsidies. More important, we as a nation must let go of the mistaken idea that housing subsidies ought to be for the poor only, or that accepting a housing subsidy represents a moral failure.
Tens of millions of Americans, mostly middle class and well to do, take about $270 billion a year in tax breaks offered to homeowners in part to offset the cost of mortgage interest and property taxes: more than four times what we spend on subsidies for below-market housing. Meanwhile, in virtually every other rich country it is well understood that housing subsidies are essential to the wellbeing of cities. In a city without quality housing for working and middle-income families, and where people regularly spend 50 percent or 60 percent of their income on rent, we are all impoverished. The United States is no exception.