According to my research, there are 139 million homes in the United States, and 1.3 million are owned by public housing authorities. It seems to me that more public housing could be possible solution to housing shortages and rent costs being too high. Is that accurate? If so, why isn't there more public housing in the US?

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    Hello Good Shmorning, welcome to Politics! Can you please read the tour and help center. This question appears to be asking multiple questions - “Is public housing good?” and “Would it be a possible solution to housing shortages and rent costs being too high?” Could you please edit the question to change that? Jul 27, 2021 at 12:17
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about the pro's and con's of public housing has been moved to chat.
    – Philipp
    Jul 27, 2021 at 15:35
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    Is the US uniquely low in that regard? oecd.org/social/social-housing-policy-brief-2020.pdf Figure 1.1. doesn't make it look that way. Jul 28, 2021 at 2:52
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica the figure under that graph talks about items that are excluded in each country, except the US and Spain, where it lists a wide variety of things that are included. How much difference these exclusions make is not clear, but it makes for slightly odd reading and at least hints that the US position is higher than it might otherwise be.
    – Jontia
    Jul 29, 2021 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


Building of new public housing units has been banned in the US since 1999.

The Faircloth amendment was part of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, a Clinton-era response to growing public dissatisfaction with public housing. The provision curbed any increase in such units above 1999 levels.

Since then, the public housing supply has steadily decreased. In 1996, the U.S. had more than 1.3 million units, and in 2019 there were 987,000, according to the Housing and Urban Development Department.

According to the article which talks about attempts to repeal the Faircloth amendment as part of the new Infrastructure Bill, there's a little bit in there talking about how public housing ended up with such a poor reputation that the amendment was passed in the first palce.

In the 1990s people saw public housing as a failed program that brought drugs and violence to neighborhoods, Sue Popkin, director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together Initiative, said. Almost no new public housing was built after 1975, and the Nixon and Reagan administrations shifted funds toward the private market, Popkin said.

“A lot of what caused the situation in the first place was not the buildings themselves or the people in them,” Popkin said. “It was the legacy of segregation; it was the disinvestment.”

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    As is included by implication, even before the ban, public housing also suffered from what was then known as NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard). That acronym failed to capture the true magnitude of the issue, so evolved to BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). The current version, however, does the job even better, we use NOPE (Not On Planet Earth). Jul 27, 2021 at 12:02

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