Amy D. Crews, Syracuse University


The primary goals of the 1937 Housing Act were to provide safe and sanitary housing and to reduce crowding for low-income households. During the nearly 60 years since, the effective goals have expanded to include lowering housing costs, and by extension, to increasing nonhousing consumption. This paper examines the effect these programs have had on the overall consumption behavior of participants. Using data from the 1987 American Housing Survey (AHS), the results indicate that federal housing programs have little effect on the housing consumption of participants (4.4 percent increase), but an enormous effect on their nonhousing consumption (141 percent increase). Furthermore, the assistance seems to lower the housing consumption of 42 percent of participating households. Finally, substituting cash subsidies for in-kind housing assistance will provide more housing consumption, but with smaller nonhousing consumption, than the current (primarily in-kind) system.

Document Type

Working Paper






Metropolitan Studies Program Series


Without implication, the author wishes to thank Edgar O. Olsen, Steve Stern, Richard Burkhauser, Dirk Early, James R. Follain, John Goodman, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Michael Wasylenko for their suggestions on earlier drafts.


Economic Policy | Economics | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy


0732 507X

Additional Information

Metropolitan studies program series occasional paper no.178


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.