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Revisiting Rental Housing

Policies, Programs, and Priorities

foreword by Anthony Downs. edited by Nicolas P. Retsinas and Eric S. Belsky

Publication Year: 2008

Rental housing is increasingly recognized as a vital housing option in the United States. Government policies and programs continue to grapple with problematic issues, however, including affordability, distressed urban neighborhoods, concentrated poverty, substandard housing stock, and the unmet needs of the disabled, the elderly, and the homeless. In R evisiting Rental Housing, leading housing researchers build upon decades of experience, research, and evaluation to inform our understanding of the nation's rental housing challenges and what can be done about them. It thoughtfully addresses not only present issues affecting rental housing, but also viable solutions. The first section reviews the contributing factors and primary problems generated by the operation of rental markets. In the second section, contributors dissect how policies and programs have —or have not —dealt with the primary challenges; what improvements —if any —have been gained; and the lessons learned in the process. The final section looks to potential new directions in housing policy, including integrating best practices from past lessons into existing programs, and new innovations for large-scale, long-term market and policy solutions that get to the root of rental housing challenges. Contributors include William C. Apgar (Harvard University), Anthony Downs (Brookings), Rachel Drew (Harvard University), Ingrid Gould Ellen (New York University), George C. Galster (Wayne State University), Bruce Katz (Brookings), Jill Khadduri (Abt Associates), Shekar Narasimhan (Beekman Advisors), Rolf Pendall (Cornell University), John M. Quigley (University of California–Berkeley), James A. Riccio (MDRC), Stuart S. Rosenthal (Syracuse University), Margery Austin Turner (Urban Institute), and Charles Wilkins (Compass Group).

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Information

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

This book is the product of a conference exploring the role rental housing plays in the nation’s housing market on economic, policy, community, and personal levels. The goal of raising the profile of rental housing on the...

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Introduction: Why Rental Housing Is the Neglected Child of American Shelter

Anthony Downs

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pp. 1-13

Although almost one-third of all American households rent their shelter, rental housing is the neglected child of American life. In fact, the number...

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1. Overview: Rental Housing Challenges and Policy Responses

Eric S. Belsky and Rachel Bogardus Drew

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pp. 14-56

The nation faces many long-standing rental housing challenges. Chief among these concerns are widespread affordability problems, neighborhood decline, the spatial concentration of poor renters, and exposure to health hazards in the...

Part 1: What We Know: Rental Market Operations and Outcomes

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2. Where Poor Renters Live in Our Cities: Dynamics and Determinants

Stuart S. Rosenthal

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pp. 59-92

Policies designed to improve rental housing opportunities for the poor differ from other low-income support programs in many ways, but one in particular stands out: housing programs have a direct impact on where poor families can...

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3. The Costs of Concentrated Poverty: Neighborhood Property Markets and the Dynamics of Decline

George C. Galster, Jackie M. Cutsinger, and Ron Malega

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pp. 93-143

Researchers and policymakers have long harbored concerns over the location of low-income (“poor,” hereafter) households, expressing fears that the concentration of poverty contributes to a variety of social maladies...

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4. Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhoods

Ingrid Gould Ellen

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pp. 144-158

At a congressional hearing in 1948, Rep. A. S. Mike Monroney argued that the construction of new, subsidized rental housing improves the surrounding neighborhood and in so doing raises property tax...

Part 2: What Happened? Current Housing Policy

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5. Designing Subsidized Rental Housing Programs: What Have We Learned?

Jill Khadduri and Charles Wilkins

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pp. 161-190

For more than half a century, the federal government has provided subsidies under numerous programs to build, rehabilitate, and preserve affordable rental housing. In total, some 5 million units have been created using direct...

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6. Subsidized Housing and Employment: Building Evidence of What Works

James A. Riccio

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pp. 191-224

For many years, policymakers have agreed that low-income, working-age people who receive rent subsidies from the government ought to strive for selfsufficiency and that the housing subsidy system should play an actively...

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7. From Hurdles to Bridges: Local Land-Use Regulations and the Pursuit of Affordable Rental Housings

Rolf Pendall

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pp. 225-274

Since the 1970s, affordable housing has shifted from a federal to a shared local, state, and federal issue. As coastal areas have experienced mounting affordability problems, their state and local governments have done much more than...

Part 3: Moving Forward: New Directions in Rental Housing Policy

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8. Capital for Small Rental Properties: Preserving a Vital Housing Resource

William C. Apgar and Shekar Narasimhan

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pp. 277-299

Nearly one-fifth of the rental housing stock in the United States is in smaller, multifamily apartment buildings with five to forty-nine units. Although relatively large shares of these units are occupied by lower-income families, the...

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9. Just Suppose: Housing Subsidies for Low-Income Renters

John M. Quigley

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pp. 300-318

In most aspects of government policy, history matters. This is especially important in programs involving lumpy and costly investments with long, useful lives and where political consensus is difficult to achieve. The importance of...

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10. Rethinking U.S. Rental Housing Policy: A New Blueprint for Federal, State, and Local Action

Bruce Katz and Margery Austin Turner

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pp. 319-358

In recent years, housing has all but disappeared from national-level debate except for occasional discussions of a possible housing “bubble” and the alltoo- brief concern about emergency housing needs in the aftermath of Hurricane...


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pp. 359


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pp. 361-370

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815774129
E-ISBN-10: 0815774125

Page Count: 370
Publication Year: 2008