Press Release Health and Social Programs Inequality United States

Rent Too High? US Needs European-Style Social Housing

June 16, 2022

Contact: KL Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington — Public housing in the US, once quite desirable, is now a national symbol of urban blight and failed policy. To reverse that, CEPR’s Algernon Austin makes a case for adopting European-style social housing at the federal level.

In Only Radical Changes Will Make Rents Affordable, Austin argues that the way to achieve safe, sustainable, and permanently affordable rental housing is for the US to adopt not-for-profit social housing policies and provide rental assistance to all who need it, not just to a tiny fraction as is done today. 

“With these two strategies, the US can provide more affordable, high quality rental housing for all renters,” said Austin.

Experts estimate a shortage of 7 million rental units for households in poverty. The Biden administration responded with a housing plan that relies on the current toolkit of federal housing policies like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The federal tax credit meets the needs of investors far better than it does renters.

“Even if the Biden plan is approved by Congress and fully implemented, it is not big enough to address the scale of the problem and is unlikely to eliminate the affordable rental housing crisis,” explains Austin.

To make a dramatic dent in that shortage, Austin proposes a new social housing model where public and nonprofit-owned housing is without restrictions by income or the number of households that can receive rental assistance.

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