Kevin M. Cremin


During the last twenty years, HUD has increasingly utilized demand-side as opposed to supply-side programs to provide affordable housing. As a result, more Americans now rely on Section 8 rental vouchers for affordable housing than on conventional public housing. This shift in programmatic emphasis has produced a voluminous amount of commentary. Proponents of the complete voucherization of housing subsidies have focused on the economic efficiency and mobility-enhancing qualities of the Section 8 program. Critics are divided as to whether to call for additional spending on auxiliary services to ensure real choice in relocation or to question the effect of subsidized mobility on the vitality of inner-city communities. Yet, all commentators have agreed on the parameters of the debate. Thus far, the implicit assumption underlying all commentary on the Section 8 program is that the only relevant households are lowincome families headed by un- or under-employed working-aged adults who have one or more school-aged children and are currently living in high-crime, impoverished inner-city communities. As a result, even in the minds of skeptics, the potential personal security, employment, and education benefits of relocation are of considerable analytical importance. Although most commentators do not even bother to acknowledge their detachment from reality, even those who do fail to weigh the significance of their world-narrowing simplification.

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