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May, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 5
Foreign housing voucher systems:
evolution and strategies
The "housing voucher" or "housing allowance" concept is emerging as the principal tool in U.S. housing subsidy policy. In Europe, governments have effectively operated national housing allowance systems for several decades with a wide variety of strategies. This report examines foreign experience.1
Two fundamental judgments underlie all housing allowance2 systems: (1) there are large numbers of families that cannot obtain minimum standard housing by paying a reasonable portion of their income, and (2) the most needy households should be given first priority in the payment of housing subsidies. However, there have been notable differences among housing allowance systems in their approach to the most needy households. There have been different definitions of "most needy," and the principle of priority for the most needy has often been blended with other important economic and social purposes.
The strategic role of the housing allowance concept as it has developed in other countries can be best understood by delineating eight models of the concept: large family hardship model; elderly hardship model; rent harmonization model; excessive shelter-to-income model; tandem-new construction model; social stability model; labor mobility model; and family crisis model. (See exhibit 1.)
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1986 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 This is an excerpt from a forthcoming report, Housing Vouchers: An International Analysis, to be published by Rutgers University Press.
2 The term "housing voucher" is rarely used in foreign countries
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