Identifying the Failures of Public Housing Programs in the United States and Analyzing Solutions from Abroad

March 2022

This article examines the negative impacts of poverty dense housing environments within the United States and suggests a potential solution that has seen success implemented in European countries. Many social welfare programs are born out of altruistic beliefs but fail to live up to their stated goals as they become the target of cynical political movements. Public housing programs in the United States have proven to be no exception. Cynical and often racist attacks against social welfare programs and their beneficiaries have generated reforms which have constricted their ability to function. The targeted underfunding of public housing departments and local authorities have paralyzed programs and trapped tenants who once relied on these social welfare programs to assist them to live a better life. This has resulted in widening divides in opportunity and socioeconomic status between those living in public housing and those who do not. Furthermore, literature examining the conditions of public housing points to a diminished quality of life among tenants with respect to expected income, educational attainment, and physical and mental health. Upon examining programs across Europe, particularly Austria and Denmark, and their impact on tenants and communities, this article recommends the shifting of U.S. public housing programs from operating as landlords to negotiating equitable and efficient public private partnerships.