In Vienna, three in five people live in municipal or cooperative housing, and the city could provide a model for the United States. The housing crisis has left nearly half of rental households paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent, and private developers focus on building luxury accommodations
, not the affordable housing that is desperately needed.
In response, the People’s Policy Project (3P) has released a paper detailing its plan for a massive expansion of the country’s social housing stock
, but instead of serving only the poor, anyone could live in these government-owned municipal developments. The authors present two key benefits of the plan.
First, it adds new rental capacity in the housing market directly where it is needed. By greatly expanding the supply of mid-range and affordable units, it will both accommodate more residents and make existing privately-owned apartments cheaper. […] Second, by allowing people of all incomes to apply to live in these new developments, local governments will be able to charge higher rents to higher-income residents, and thus capture a great deal of capital income. Instead of being a large budgetary burden on cities and the federal government, they could be mostly self-sustaining.
In a piece for The Guardian
, 3P president Matt Bruenig argues that this plan addresses the concerns of both YIMBYs and NIMBYs because “[a]n influx of publicly owned, efficiently built apartments would add to the housing supply while minimizing the displacement risks caused by luxury developments.” At the same time, it’s important to remember public housing isn’t just needed in cities, but also in many smaller cities and towns.
Molly Parker is starting a new series with ProPublica focusing on the public housing crisis in the United States. Her first piece looks at how HUD is closing down several complexes
after decades of underinvestment and expecting residents to transition to private rentals supported by vouchers. However, that’s leading to some really unstable situations for residents as some are required to move to other towns, sometimes even across state borders. It brings to mind Matthew Desmond’s Evicted
, which looks at the issues of poverty and unstable housing in Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods.
It’s clear that cities and towns of all sizes have a need for quality, affordable housing, and 3P’s report makes an important contribution to the discussion over how to revive public housing.