ABSTRACT

The American approach to providing decent housing for all is a palimpsest created through choices. It leaves a sizeable group without homes, others suffering from residential instability, and many locked out of areas of opportunity. Nearly 70 years after the 1949 national commitment to decent housing for all, the commitment remains unfulfilled not due to impossibility, but to a lack of political will. The supply of public and subsidized housing in America is strikingly low when compared to European countries. Fear of government control, in combination with a perceived failure of public housing and racism, has meant a greater reliance on private sector activity and a declining commitment of federal dollars to housing assistance for those who need it. The American preference for as unregulated a market as possible keeps from demanding living wages that could cover housing costs or creating laws to limit speculation and profiteering in the housing market.