Senior Policy Analyst
Today’s New York Times “Room for Debate” forum asks “Should Housing Policy Support Renters More?” It’s an important discussion since, as we explain in this chart book, federal housing policy is imbalanced in two ways. It favors homeowners over renters, and it targets a disproportionate share of subsidies on higher-income households (see chart).
This is the case even though, as Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, points out, “the primary focus of federal housing policy should be to help those most in need.” Need among renters is rising. As MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch notes, “increasing rents, stagnant wages and inadequate federal support have made rental housing less affordable for more people.” Low-income renters — including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and working families — are far likelier than homeowners and higher income households to need assistance to keep a roof over their heads and make ends meet.
Three ongoing policy debates offer opportunities to move in this direction: