The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

KL Conner,

Rent Too High? US Needs European-Style Social Housing


Public housing in the US, once quite desirable, is now a national symbol of urban blight and failed policy. To reverse that, CEPR's Algernon Austin makes a case for adopting European-style social housing at the federal level.

In Only Radical Changes Will Make Rents Affordable, Austin argues that the way to achieve safe, sustainable, and permanently affordable rental housing is for the US to adopt not-for-profit social housing policies and provide rental assistance to all who need it, not just to a tiny fraction as is done today.

"With these two strategies, the US can provide more affordable, high quality rental housing for all renters," said Austin.

Experts estimate a shortage of 7 million rental units for households in poverty. The Biden administration responded with a housing plan that relies on the current toolkit of federal housing policies like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The federal tax credit meets the needs of investors far better than it does renters.

"Even if the Biden plan is approved by Congress and fully implemented, it is not big enough to address the scale of the problem and is unlikely to eliminate the affordable rental housing crisis," explains Austin.

To make a dramatic dent in that shortage, Austin proposes a new social housing model where public and nonprofit-owned housing is without restrictions by income or the number of households that can receive rental assistance.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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