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More Housing, More Fairly

Report of the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Affordable Housing

By Michael A. Stegman

Some argue that no single housing program will make much difference and a new paradigm is needed. This conclusion is not surprising given that the work of a generation in piecing together a housing policy has been undone over the past decade. Even federal support for housing programs, for example, had been cut by 80 percent. For most of the same period, all-in cost of mortgages (including “points’) stayed in double digits. While the mortgage interest deduction survived, lower income tax rates reduced its impact. Federal tax advantages for developers and builders of housing were drastically curtailed. And the savings and loan industry, originally intended to provide low-cost mortgage money, self-destructed. It should come as no surprise, then, that recent levels of annual housing starts are approximately the same as these at the time the nation had only a little over half our current population.

When the national government, as it must, turns serious attention to the problem of housing for the nation’s middle- and low-income families, More Housing, More Fairly surely will be a significant source of ideas and guidance for those charged with creating a new housing policy.

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