With comments from a variety of experts addressing housing issues connected to COVID-19 and other social factors, I noticed the last expert cited provided a reminder about lost public housing units:
“There’s a lot of talk about a universal voucher program in housing and entitlements, which would be a game changer for family homelessness, but you still have the problem of there not being enough places for people to rent,” Popkin said. “So we need to push both on the supply side and on the increased assistance side.
”Funding could go toward replacing tens of thousands of public housing residences lost between the ’80s and now, whether it be with new construction or renovating older buildings, she said.
“I’d like to see them built in a thoughtful way that doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” she said.
The demolition of public housing high-rises in Chicago and numerous other big American cities had multiple effects. One of the stated goals was to help deconcentrate poverty. By moving public housing residents into other neighborhoods, it was hoped this would help their life chances.
But, this has not worked as well as might have been hoped. If the goal was simply to remove an eyesore in the city and push problems with housing and poverty out of the public eye, mission accomplished. The stigma of such projects disappeared with their demolition. Some of the land, when it was in desirable locations, was redeveloped. If the goal was to help people find good housing and attain more opportunities, this would involve a more robust approach to building and making available good housing. In Chicago, there were promises to provide for better lives and build more units…and it did not happen.
Just because the public housing high-rises are not visible in many locations does mean there is not need for cheaper yet quality housing. Americans do not have much stomach for public housing but the need is there to be addressed.