Low-Income Housing

October 28, 1970

Report Outline
Housing Shortage for the Poor
Role of Government in Housing
New Attempts to Meet Housing Needs
Special Focus

Housing Shortage for the Poor

The growing scarcity of housing in the United States affects all classes of people, but none so severely as the poor. For middle-income families the housing pinch means, at most, postponement of the dream of home ownership. In the meantime, such families usually have little difficulty finding comfortable—if not always ample—rental accommodations at a cost they can afford. Few poor people have this choice. With rare exceptions, a low income forecloses the possibility of living in a decent dwelling in a safe neighborhood.

In many large cities, even substandard housing is in short supply. Low-income squatters have occupied a number of condemned buildings in New York City, whose housing shortage is the most acute in the country. At the same time, thousands of structurally sound dwellings lie vacant in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, and other cities. These abandoned buildings are situated in areas so plagued by crime that only the most desperately poor dare live in them.

Low-income housing is even harder to find in the suburbs than in the inner cities. Although conceived with other purposes in mind, municipal zoning ordinances have had the effect of freezing out public or private housing developments for poor families. Moreover, the great majority of suburbanites oppose such projects in the belief that they would be inhabited by Negroes and act as breeding grounds for crime and other city problems—and hence depress property values.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Public Housing
Sep. 10, 1993  Public Housing
May 08, 1987  Low Income Housing
Oct. 28, 1970  Low-Income Housing
Jul. 22, 1964  Public Housing in War on Poverty
Apr. 20, 1955  Public Housing, 1955
Jul. 27, 1948  Public Housing
Oct. 12, 1943  Postwar Housing
Nov. 18, 1936  The Unsolved Housing Problem
Jan. 24, 1935  Low Cost Housing in the United States
Low Income and Public Housing