Essays on Housing Policy in the United States by Alex Schwartz Book Report/Review

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The paper “ Housing Policy in the United States by Alex Schwartz" is a   forceful example of a book review on social science. From Hank Sturges debates Housing Vouchers vs. Housing Units; I feel that the housing argument elicits a very interesting debate. From an overview of the debate, he has argued the debate powerfully, a raises a number of issues. He wants us to understand that public housing offers a stable location for low-income families. He contrasts this with vouchers which he points out contributes to considerable instability. He asserts that a provision of an actual unit guarantees a place of residence, offering a stable place crucial for child development and for adults to find work.

This is unlike vouchers. Secondly, he argues that unlike section 8 housing voucher programme, public housing is not affected by Fair Market value. The latter require families have to find a house that complies with all stipulations needed for vouchers, with regards to physical quality and space. Further, voucher program depends on acceptance of the owners to the program, and they have to accept to abide by the requirements including physical inspection, paperwork and acceptance of rent subsidy.

To add, he argues that public housing is not subjected as to location as is section 8 housing program, whereby the latter is susceptible in case of limited housing as well as where houses fall below the FMR. Finally, he argues that public housing is not affected by the tides of rental availability, unlike where families have been unable to find houses with their vouchers.   He argues that this clearly depicts the difficulty of allowing the private sector to control housing. Nevertheless, arguments against public housing are also rife, which push for vouchers.

To begin with, vouchers and certificates, give a participant wide options, and opportunities to live in a better neighborhood. Participants can find their own housing, which better suites their circumstance, and is not, limited to units located in subsidized areas. As compared to public housing, participants in the latter program have the chance to live in a better neighborhood given that public housing is heavily concentrated by race (Goering, Kamely, and Richardson 1994). This is summed up by Turner (1998) who states that a majority are able to live in areas of lower poverty rate. Moreover, he argues that vouchers increase mobility of participants.

To add, the flexibility of vouchers is seen by the fact that they can be employed to purchase houses, unlike public housing which is rigid. They are also less susceptible to nonmarket failures like corruption and political favoritism. In his book Housing Policy in the United States, Alex Schwartz, states that public housing is seen by many as a symbol of extreme poverty, grim architecture, neglected grounds and crime.

He argues that the unpopularity of the public houses can be traced back to the design stage. He asserts that it is the manner in which the program was carried out that resulted to racial segregation as well as the places they were located near ghettos. With regards to privates housing, he questions the government commitment, and points out that it is not proper to leave it in hands of private entrepreneurs who are driven by profit. In my opinion, there is a need to laud the government for its efforts.

The implementation phase is the obstacle towards achieving goals. There is no need to separate the two projects as the goal is to house the poor. Nevertheless, the latter project seems to just to be towards relocating former public housing residents to private housing within urban ghettos. Such a fix to problems may not address problems unemployment and inner city poverty, but it seems to cement the problems of racism and discrimination that have shaped US cities, and therefore may not achieve the intended objective. The manner in which the program was run contributed more to poverty, and racial segregation, given that a majority of the houses were limited to poor suburbs and ghettos. To add, contrary to Schwartz argument, little or no maintenance is done, meaning that most of the buildings are highly dilapidated.

This problem is deteriorated by inadequate funding, bad physical location of the housing units and powerlessness and alienation of the public housing residents.

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