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Abstract

The Reagan era was characterized by the popularity of individual level explanations and market based solutions for a range of social problems, including homelessness. We argue that such an approach was inadequate and may, in fact, have toorsened the housing situation. We claim that homelessness is fundamentally a housing problem linked to two key trends of the 1980s: the increasing rate of poverty and the declining supply'f low-income housing. Market approaches to housing policy have resulted in housing policies by default: gentrification, condo conversion and displacement as well as tax policies that explicitly favor the nonpoor. Those policies gehred towards the poor, vouchers and subsidies, were inadequate responses to increasing need. In sum, the Reagan years witnessed dramatic declines in the supply of low-cost housing, substantial increases in the poverty rate, and drastic shifts in federal policy towards housing the poor.

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