Public Housing and Rent subsidy program

Public Housing and Rent subsidy program


Most people, especially among the adult poor, have a challenge of finding affordable housing. Thus, to address the housing issue, under the US housing act, the government established public housing in 1937 and 1970 they established rent subsidy program under the housing and urban development act (Simon et al., 2017). The two housing programs; public housing and rent subsidy program were set to provide a solution to the housing problem. A public housing program is a form of tenure where the houses are owned by the government and are handed over for selected people to stay temporarily as they seek to improve their lives. On the other hand, the rent subsidy program involves the government giving out vouchers to people to seek for private rentals and use the voucher to subsidy their rent. The two housing programs have advantages and disadvantages even as they assist in solving the housing problem. The paper will compare public housing and rent subsidy program.

Public Housing Program

The term public housing program is a form of tenure where the central government owns the houses and then handed over to the chosen member of the public. The primary role of public housing was to establish a temporary housing unit for low-income citizens until their financial status is advanced which can allow them to shift to the private rentals or buy their own houses. The housing programs assist the government in solving the housing issues by providing affordable housing for its people especially the poor. It is limited to low-income families and individuals (Smith, 2015). The program is offered based on the people’s level of income, age, and family members. The public housing program was established in 1937 under the US housing act.


  • The program provides temporary housing for low-income families saving them from the stress of paying rent every month. The US government allocates these houses for free to the selected families giving them the freedom to move to private rental or purchase their own homes when their financial status improves (Collinson, Ellen & Ludwig, 2015).
  • The beneficiaries of the public housing projects enjoy the benefits such as government-regulated cleanings, and property maintenance. They also have access to education as their children attend school. Thus, their children can learn and improve their lives when they get good jobs to sustain their families.
  • The public housing residents had friendly neighbors where they count on one another, watch over each other’s children and assist each other on a general basis. The families in this housing program had a good relationship with each other which promoted harmony.
  • The public housing program separated the poor from the rich in the society. The people living in this shelter were known to be poor. They are often looked down upon by people who live in good houses.
  • The public housing program provided an environment for high crime rates. According to a justice policy institute report on public housing safety, found evidence of a strong link between low-quality public housing and social consequences such as drug-related crimes.


Rental Subsidy Program

Rental subsidy program involves the government giving out vouchers to people to seek private rentals using the voucher to make their payment. The voucher covers the subsidized amount is dependent on the income of the family. It is apparent that the families who benefit from vouchers as subsidy ends up living in a high-poverty neighborhood and their children attend similar schools as public housing children (Afxentiou, 2015). Therefore, this means that despite the rent subsidy program, the beneficiaries will still have to share most social amenities like schools. The rental subsidy housing program was established in 1973 under the housing and urban development act.


  • The voucher gives recipients the freedom to choose the kinds of housing and locations that best suit their needs. As opposed to the public housing program, rent subsidy allows the individuals to make their choice on the environment they want.
  • The program allowed individuals with low incomes to be integrated into communities of middle-income earners than to be segregated into public housing. The program was introduced after the notion that public housing is the significant centers of poverty and crime involving the use of drugs.


  • Not all recipients who receive vouchers or rather rent subsidy can find a house where they can use them. Lack of moderately priced private rental housing, fixed market conditions, landlords unwilling to accept voucher payments and inefficient local management lead to this challenge.
  • Another challenge is that the current housing rent subsidy or voucher program is that federal government expenditure for affordable housing is woefully insufficient. Approximately, one in every three families gets assistance which means that a lot of people are still locked out facing severe housing hardship.
  • Despite being segregated from public housing residents, the voucher recipients still find their children go to similar schools as those living in public housing set by the government.

The two housing programs by the federal government intended to solve the housing problem have their merits and demerits based on the provisions of the program. However, the rent subsidy program is better than public housing program because it does not confine an individual to a single place. Rent subsidy allows the recipient holding the voucher to choose any location in the private rentals which enables them to experience life outside the public houses by getting a better environment.


The public housing and rent subsidy program was established by the federal government to assist low-income families in getting affordable housing. The public housing established in 1937 resulted in the perception that it provided for an environment of crime and gang violence which lead to federal government coming up with rent subsidy program. The rent subsidy program involves the government giving people vouchers to use in paying their rent in private rentals they want. Therefore, since the later program enables the voucher recipient to live in a better house, it is considered the best program.


Afxentiou, D. (2015). Public Housing, Rent Subsidy: A Comparative Panel Analysis on the Effects on Education and Earnings. NEW YORK ECONOMIC REVIEW, 82.

Collinson, R., Ellen, I. G., & Ludwig, J. (2015). Low-income housing policy. In Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume 2 (pp. 59-126). University of Chicago Press.

Simon, A. E., Fenelon, A., Helms, V., Lloyd, P. C., & Rossen, L. M. (2017). HUD housing assistance associated with lower uninsurance rates and unmet medical need. Health Affairs, 36(6), 1016-1023.

Smith, J. L. (2015). Public housing transformation: Evolving national policy. Where are poor people to live?: Transforming public housing communities (pp. 31-52). Routledge.