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Authors

Huth

Abstract

This article first briefly reviews the history of public housing in the United States since its inception in 1937, noting that growing obsolescence of public housing units, the deterioration of inner-city neighborhoods surrounding public housing projects, racial tensions, and inflation have aggravated public housing problems in recent years. Moreover, public housing tenants are no longer predominantly white, upwardly-mobile, two-parent, working-class families, but predominantly non-white, non-mobile, female-headed, lower-class families. The remainder of the article presents the findings of a 1978 field survey of public housing in the United States conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in preparation for its Public Housing Urban Initiatives Program. This survey revealed the number of "troubled" projects and their major characteristics, identified and explained the principal variables causing these projects to be labeled "troubled," and, finally, assessed the impact of a variety of remedial intervention strategies proposed by HUD field office personnel. The author concludes that, in the balance, the positive aspects of the public housing program in the United States outweigh its negative features. There are problems with inconsistent regulations at the federal level, with site selection, with fraud and crime, with management-tenant relations, and with underfinancing, but the system has also responded fairly well over the past forty years to the demand for low-income housing and to changing tenant expectations in terms of the structure of public housing units and their amenities, besides incorporating new housing technologies and architectural styles.

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