Housing Policy in the United States: An Introduction

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The homes in Iran were constructed of sun-dried mud-brick and mud. We should think of our homes as a legacy to future generations and consider the negative environmental effects of building them to serve only one or two generations before razing or reconstructing them. Homes should be built for sustainability and for ease in future modification. We need to learn the lessons of the earthquake in Iran, as well as the heat wave in France that killed in excess of 15, people because of the lack of climate control systems in their homes.

We must use our experience, history, and knowledge of both engineering and human health needs to construct housing that meets the need for privacy, comfort, recreation, and health maintenance. Health, home construction, and home maintenance are inseparable because of their overlapping goals. Many highly trained individuals must work together to achieve quality, safe, and healthy housing.

Contractors, builders, code inspectors, housing inspectors, environmental health officers, injury control specialists, and epidemiologists all are indispensable to achieving the goal of the best housing in the world for U. This goal is the basis for the collaboration of the U.

Preurban Housing Early dwelling designs were probably the result of cultural, socioeconomic, and physical forces intrinsic to the environment of their inhabitants. The housing similarities among civilizations separated by vast distances may have been a result of a shared heritage, common influences, or chance.

Caves were accepted as dwellings, perhaps because they were ready made and required little or no construction. However, in areas with no caves, simple shelters were constructed and adapted to the availability of resources and the needs of the population. Classification systems have been developed to demonstrate how dwelling types evolved in preurban indigenous settings [ 1 ].

Subsidized housing in the United States - Wikipedia

Ephemeral Dwellings Ephemeral dwellings, also known as transient dwellings, were typical of nomadic peoples. Habitation of an ephemeral dwelling is generally a matter of days. Episodic Dwellings Episodic housing is exemplified by the Inuit igloo, the tents of the Tungus of eastern Siberia, and the very similar tents of the Lapps of northern Europe. These groups are more sophisticated than those living in ephemeral dwellings, tend to be more skilled in hunting or fishing, inhabit a dwelling for a period of weeks, and have a greater effect on the environment.

These groups also construct communal housing and often practice slash-and-burn cultivation, which is the least productive use of cropland and has a greater environmental impact than the hunting and gathering of ephemeral dwellers. Periodic Dwellings Periodic dwellings are also defined as regular temporary dwellings used by nomadic tribal societies living in a pastoral economy. This type of housing is reflected in the yurt used by the Mongolian and Kirgizian groups and the Bedouins of North Africa and western Asia.

Current Research in Housing

Pastoral nomads are distinguished from people living in episodic dwellings by their homogenous cultures and the beginnings of political organization. Their environmental impact increases with their increased dependence on agriculture rather than livestock. Seasonal Dwellings Schoenauer [ 1 ] describes seasonal dwellings as reflective of societies that are tribal in nature, seminomadic, and based on agricultural pursuits that are both pastoral and marginal.

Housing used by seminomads for several months or for a season can be considered semisedentary and reflective of the advancement of the concept of property, which is lacking in the preceding societies.

Housing Policy in the United States

This concept of property is primarily of communal property, as opposed to individual or personal property. This type of housing is found in diverse environmental conditions and is demonstrated in North America by the hogans and armadas of the Navajo Indians. Semipermanent Dwellings According to Schoenauer [ 1 ] , sedentary folk societies or hoe peasants practicing subsistence agriculture by cultivating staple crops use semipermanent dwellings.

These groups tend to live in their dwellings various amounts of time, usually years, as defined by their crop yields. When land needs to lie fallow, they move to more fertile areas. Groups in the Americas that used semipermanent dwellings included the Mayans with their oval houses and the Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma Indians in the southwestern United States with their pueblos.

Permanent Dwellings The homes of sedentary agricultural societies, whose political and social organizations are defined as nations and who possess surplus agricultural products, exemplify this type of dwelling. Surplus agricultural products allowed the division of labor and the introduction of other pursuits aside from food production; however, agriculture is still the primary occupation for a significant portion of the population. Although they occurred at different points in time, examples of early sedentary agricultural housing can be found in English cottages, such as the Suffolk, Cornwall, and Kent cottages [ 1 ].

Urbanization Permanent dwellings went beyond simply providing shelter and protection and moved to the consideration of comfort. These structures began to find their way into what is now known as the urban setting. The earliest available evidence suggests that towns came into existence around BC. Thus began the social and public health problems that would increase as the population of cities increased in number and in sophistication. In preurban housing, the sparse concentration of people allowed for movement away from human pollution or allowed the dilution of pollution at its location.

The movement of populations into urban settings placed individuals in close proximity, without the benefit of previous linkages and without the ability to relocate away from pollution or other people. Urbanization was relatively slow to begin, but once started, it accelerated rapidly. This was soon to change. The year saw the percentage increase to In the Western world, one of the primary forces driving urbanization was the Industrial Revolution.

The basic source of energy in the earliest phase of the Industrial Revolution was water provided by flowing rivers. Therefore, towns and cities grew next to the great waterways. Factory buildings were of wood and stone and matched the houses in which the workers lived, both in construction and in location. However, living close to the workplace was a definite advantage for the worker of the time.

Affordable Housing Policies: An Overview

When the power source for factories changed from water to coal, steam became the driver and the construction materials became brick and cast iron, which later evolved into steel. Increasing populations in cities and towns increased social problems in overcrowded slums. The lack of inexpensive, rapid public transportation forced many workers to live close to their work.

These factory areas were not the pastoral areas with which many were familiar, but were bleak with smoke and other pollutants. The inhabitants of rural areas migrated to ever-expanding cities looking for work. The cities and towns of England were woefully unprepared to cope with the resulting environmental problems, such as the lack of potable water and insufficient sewerage. In this atmosphere, cholera was rampant; and death rates resembled those of Third World countries today.

Children had a one in six chance of dying before the age of 1 year. Because of urban housing problems, social reformers such as Edwin Chadwick began to appear.

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In the United States, Shattuck et al. In the report, 50 recommendations were made. Among those related to housing and building issues were recommendations for protecting school children by ventilation and sanitation of school buildings, emphasizing town planning and controlling overcrowded tenements and cellar dwellings.

International Resources

Figure 1. In , Dr.

Housing Policy in the United States

John H. His document expressed once again the argument for housing reform and sanitation. Some parts are dry but it's highly informative about many different interacting components of US housing policy and does a good job of explaining those interactions within chapters that are siloed to specific topics and programs.


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Dec 16, Joshua Gentzler rated it liked it. College textbook. Lots of information. Well delivered.

Sep 14, Andrea rated it really liked it. Excellent history and analysis of America's housing policy.


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Mickey rated it it was ok Aug 10, Frank Woodruff rated it it was amazing Oct 12, Mark Bunch rated it it was amazing Jul 06, Mark rated it it was amazing Feb 16, Tim rated it liked it Nov 08, Imron rated it really liked it Jan 04, Chase rated it really liked it Nov 30, Jon rated it really liked it Jan 12, Christopher Lazaro rated it liked it Feb 24, Hannah Johnson rated it liked it Dec 24, Raymundo Cabrera rated it really liked it Jun 10, Michael rated it really liked it Jan 06, Leilani Grey rated it it was amazing Feb 19, Josephine rated it really liked it Aug 06, Melissa rated it really liked it Sep 24, Jeffrey Doshna rated it liked it Sep 18, Melissa Elfont rated it liked it Jun 13, The first chapters present the context surrounding US housing policy, including basic trends and problems, the housing finance system, and the role of the federal tax system in subsidizing homeowner and rental housing.

The middle chapters focus on individual subsidy programs. The closing chapters discuss issues and programs that do not necessarily involve subsidies, including homeownership, mixed-income housing, and governmental efforts to improve access to housing by reducing discriminatory barriers in the housing and mortgage markets.