New Approach Needed for Building Affordable Housing

The rising interest in urban living has meant a growing shortage of affordable housing in cities across the country. Roger Lewis proposes a new approach to help solve the crisis: building workforce housing funded by the public sector.
May 6, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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When the federal government stopped building "public housing" in the 1970s, it tried a different approach aimed at subsidizing the construction of units at below-market rents by the private sector. "[O]ver the past four decades," says Lewis, "these strategies have failed to meet rapidly growing housing needs."

"Let’s rethink how to create new affordable housing, for which demand is growing while supply is shrinking," he argues. "It’s time once again to consider building workforce housing sponsored and funded directly by the public sector."

"We should take a cue from Europe, where countries such as Denmark and Austria build 'social housing.' Social housing is public housing, but only in the sense that it is government-financed. European social housing is subsidized yet serves middle-class as well as low-income households, thereby avoiding many of the socioeconomic issues associated with America’s public housing."

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Published on Thursday, May 2, 2013 in The Washington Post
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