Housing Policy in America

Housing is a basic need that impacts other aspects of life. Apart from its primary purpose of shielding people from weather elements, it has much symbolic value across communities. In many countries, the administration controls development of buildings. House ownership has become a major problem in the US, especially among low-income families due to high costs of housing. The situation has prompted the government to enact housing policies in a bid to solve the crisis.

Home Ownership as a Social Welfare Policy Issue

Social welfare policies play a major role in improving people’s standards of living. The US government has specific guidelines to assist the poor through subsidies funded by the federal administration (Amadeo, 2019). The social welfare policies cater for the needs of individuals who fall below the national poverty level since majority of them cannot afford basic needs such as decent housing. Thus, the purpose of housing programs is to promote social equity by providing access to affordable houses.

Lack of home ownership is a social welfare policy issue. Housing costs that do not exceed 30% of a family’s income qualify as standard and affordable (Desmond, 2017). The rising housing costs has forced more than half of all poor renting homes in the US to spend over 50 percent of their income on rent (Desmond, 2017). The national housing policy has perpetuated inequality in home ownership by allocating more benefits to high-end and upper-class homeowners at the expense of the middle-class and renters. Regressive policies such as the mortgage interest deduction inflate the value of homes (Desmond, 2017). A rise in property value only benefits those who already own it while making it harder for others to acquire homes. Difficulties in purchasing and possessing homes are concerns that social welfare programs ought to address. The government should increase ownership of modest houses through programs like housing assistance’s Section 8 vouchers (Amadeo, 2019). Challenges in home ownership are likely to persist due to unfair policies.

Addressing Housing Problems

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for addressing homeownership problems and other related issues. Its primary role is to nurture healthy, sustainable, and inclusive communities, and facilitate access to quality affordable homes for all (Department of Housing and Urban Development, n.d.). As an executive cabinet-level agency, HUD has the mandate to organize and coordinate federal activities that impact housing and development of urban regions (Department of Housing and Urban Development, n.d.). Therefore, it should exercise its authority to enact policies that strive to prevent homelessness while enhancing access to decent housing. Hence, the agency is responsible for implementation of strategies that will ensure that all citizens own decent homes.

HUD has a role to initiate and enhance excellent relationships between the government and private stakeholders in real estate. The collaboration can assist in realization of the country’s housing objectives (Department of Housing and Urban Development, n.d.). It can also ensure that developers establish affordable standard units and projects which meet a given area’s housing needs. Thus, the entity is responsible for addressing issues such as high renting rates across states. Through the Office of Policy Development and Research, the body can formulate policies and design programs that handle housing issues (Department of Housing and Urban Development, n.d.). For instance, it should maintain updated records on housing needs, market forces, and current welfare programs. Thus, HUD is a central entity in the path to achieving affordable housing.

Current Federal Policy Goal of Increasing Home Ownership

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics is a framework that guides how professional social workers conduct themselves. Social employees help to meet essential needs of vulnerable groups as well as the less fortunate in society (NASW, n.d.). The aim of NASW is to assist in eliminating poverty and social inequality. Some aspects of the current federal policy’s goal of increasing homeownership meet the program’s mission. Subsidies offered through federal plans aim to lower the cost of housing, thus enabling people to buy more homes (Schuetz, 2018). Thus, the approach matches the code’s goal by paying attention to basic human needs.

Social workers perform their duties with sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity. They also advocate against social injustices such as discrimination, oppression, and poverty (NASW, n.d.). Their work is critical in ensuring institutions meet the needs of the public. However, the current federal strategy of increasing home ownership conflicts with the NASW’s code following its discrimination against low-income earners. Homeowners obtain grants by deducting interest paid on their mortgage from personal income subject to federal taxes (Schuetz, 2018). Wealthy owners receive more subsidies than low-income families, who have to rely on programs such as public housing. Thus, the approach is inequitable and does not empower all people to purchase standard homes.

Overall, homeownership is a social welfare policy issue in the US. The adopted approach has not tackled obstacles that limit housing in the country. Owning a decent home remains an elusive goal for many low-income earners. Programs such as housing assistance are yet to meet the needs of the people. Besides, regressive policies like mortgage interest deduction favor wealthy at the expense of low-income families. Thus, it is necessary for HUD to formulate strategic policies aimed at providing standard housing to all citizens.

 

References

Amadeo, K. (2019). US welfare programs, the myths versus the facts: The 6 major welfare programs. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/welfare-programs-definition-and-list-3305759

Department of Housing and Urban Development (n.d.). Retrieved from https://obamaadministration.archives.performance.gov/agency/department-housing-and-urban-development.html

Desmond, M. (2017, May 9). How homeownership became the engine of American inequality. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/magazine/how-homeownership-became-the-engine-of-american-inequality.html

NASW. (n.d.). Read the code of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

Schuetz, J. (2018). Under US housing policies, homeowners mostly win, while renters mostly lose. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/under-us-housing-policies-homeowners-mostly-win-while-renters-mostly-lose/

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