Housing the Poor

November 7, 1980

Report Outline
Interest in Self-Help Efforts
Incentives and Motivations
Future Prospects and Goals
Special Focus

Interest in Self-Help Efforts

Growth of Neighborhood Housing Groups

For most poor families in the United States, housing is just one more item on a long list of necessities that are overpriced, overcrowded, falling apart and out of control. A trip through any big U.S. city reveals whole areas of distressed housing filled with angry, suspicious, resentful people. The scope of the problem is staggering. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 14.8 million lower-income families needed, but were not receiving, housing assistance this year either because they were living in substandard or overcrowded rental housing or because they were paying more than 25 percent of their incomes in rent.

Government programs reach only a fraction of the needy. Some 386,000 low-income families in seven major cities currently are receiving help from two government programs — Section 8 rent subsidies and public housing. This compares with the 1.6 million households in those cities that HUD says are eligible for aid. In New York, the waiting list for public housing is 100,000 names long; only 5,000 units become available each year. Section 8 rent funds reach only about 2 percent of the city's eligible families.

The housing problems of the poor have been aggravated in recent years by the redevelopment of some urban neighborhoods. As rents and taxes in renovated sections rise along with property values, many lower-income residents are forced to leave. Those who are displaced often slip away quietly, without telling friends or other tenants. “Just as during the Depression, when some people blamed themselves for being unemployed, the displaced frequently are ashamed at being unable to afford higher housing costs,” said Dennis Gale, an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at George Washington University.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 23, 2022  Homelessness Crisis
Apr. 02, 2021  Evictions and COVID-19
Mar. 02, 2018  Affordable Housing Shortage
Nov. 06, 2015  Housing Discrimination
Feb. 20, 2015  Gentrification
Apr. 05, 2013  Homeless Students
Dec. 14, 2012  Future of Homeownership
Dec. 18, 2009  Housing the Homeless
Nov. 02, 2007  Mortgage Crisis Updated
Feb. 09, 2001  Affordable Housing
Jan. 06, 1989  Affordable Housing: Is There Enough?
Oct. 30, 1981  Creative Home Financing
Nov. 07, 1980  Housing the Poor
Dec. 21, 1979  Rental Housing Shortage
Nov. 24, 1978  Housing Restoration and Displacement
Apr. 22, 1977  Housing Outlook
Sep. 26, 1973  Housing Credit Crunch
Aug. 06, 1969  Communal Living
Jul. 09, 1969  Private Housing Squeeze
Mar. 04, 1966  Housing for the Poor
Apr. 10, 1963  Changing Housing Climate
Sep. 26, 1956  Prefabricated Housing
Sep. 02, 1949  Cooperative Housing
May 14, 1947  Liquidation of Rent Controls
Dec. 17, 1946  National Housing Emergency, 1946-1947
Mar. 05, 1946  New Types of Housing
Oct. 08, 1941  Rent Control
Aug. 02, 1938  The Future of Home Ownership
Sep. 05, 1934  Building Costs and Home Renovation
Nov. 20, 1933  Federal Home Loans and Housing
Nov. 17, 1931  Housing and Home Ownership
Low Income and Public Housing
Welfare and Welfare Reform