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Preventing Poverty

Low IncomeOne part of a collection of essays published by American Enterprise Institute [1] is focusing on housing policy issues. From the book, A Safety Net That Works edited by Robert Doar, this section revealed how reforming housing policies could help reduce poverty.

Concerning this issue, Ed Olsen, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Virginia gives his insight about how the current system is not doing underprivileged American’s any justice, but it has the possibility to.

Touching on the most noteworthy aspects of his essay, Olsen writes that the bulk of low-income housing assistance in the U.S. is funded by the federal government through a large number of programs with a combined cost of more than $50 billion a year.

However, the most significant issue with this is that low-income housing programs do not offer assistance to many of the poorest families that are eligible for them. Instead, eligible families that need assistance must get on a waiting list.

So the current system of low-income housing assistance provides enormous subsidies to some households while offering none to others that are equally poor, and it provides subsidies to many people who are not poor while offering none to many of the poorest. Ultimately, Olsen believes all that is needed is better housing policies.

“Well-designed reforms of the current system of low-income housing assistance would substantially alleviate poverty with less public spending,” Olsen said.

In his essay, Olsen provides proposed reforms that would provide housing assistance to millions of additional people without spending more money. The proposed reforms deal with all parts of the current system—active construction programs, existing privately owned housing projects, public housing, and the housing voucher program.

He also reveals his apprehensions about the evidence of the current policies, including constructing new units to house the homeless, building new homes for low-income families, and reducing the substantial differences in subsidies across identical households that characterize the current system.

To view the full essay presented by the American Enterprise Institute, click here [2].