NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Housing Programs for Low-Income Households

Edgar O. Olsen

NBER Working Paper No. 8208
Issued in April 2001
NBER Program(s):   PE

The primary purposes of this paper are to (1) consider the justifications that have been offered for housing subsidies to low-income households and the implications of these justifications for the evaluation and design of housing programs, (2) describe the most important features of the largest rental housing programs for low-income households in the United States, (3) summarize the empirical evidence on the major effects of these programs, and (4) analyze the major options for reform of the system of housing subsidies. The largest rental programs are HUD's Public Housing, Section 236, Section 8 New Construction/Substantial Rehab, Section 8 Existing, USDA's Section 515, and the IRS's Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The effects of these programs that will be considered include effects on the housing occupied by recipients of the subsidy and their consumption of other goods, effects on labor supply of assisted households, the distribution of benefits among recipients, participation rates among different types of households, effects on the types of neighborhoods in which subsidized households live and the effect of subsidized housing and households on their neighbors, the effect on prices of unsubsidized housing, and the cost-effectiveness of alternative methods for delivering housing assistance.

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Published: Housing Programs for Low-Income Households, Edgar O. Olsen, in Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States (2003), University of Chicago Press (p. 365 - 442)

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