An overview of the housing assistance supply experiment

by Ira S. Lowry

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Results from two experimental sites during three years of program operations indicate that about 20 percent of all households are eligible for housing allowances and about 10 percent choose to enroll in the program. Most enrollees are elderly homeowners, welfare mothers, or the unemployed; the latter usually participate only briefly. Annual assistance payments average $1,000 for renters and $800 for homeowners. About 80 percent of the enrollees eventually find acceptable housing and thus qualify for payments. About 45 percent already have acceptable dwellings so their payments amount to unrestricted income transfers. A fourth repair their homes to qualify and a tenth move to acceptable dwellings. Repairs are typically inexpensive but they correct unsafe, unsanitary, or indecent conditions. Only those who move substantially increase their housing expenditures. In one site, where property values are low, some participants have bought homes. The program has not seriously disturbed the housing market in either site.

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