According to Alcock et.al (2016), social policy refers to principles, legislation, activities and guidelines which affect the conditions of living that are conducive to the welfare of human beings, like an individual’s quality of life. Social policy may also refer to the actions which have an impact on the well-being of people in the society through shaping the access to, and distribution of resources in that given society (Alcock et.al 2016). Currently, there are a number of social policies in place like the housing policy. Therefore, this paper analyses the housing policy including its strengths and limitations.
Erickson & Wilhelm (2017) argues that public housing in USA is administered by the state, local and federal agencies in order to provide assistance for households with low income. Public housing is usually priced far below the current market price which in turn allows people to be able to live in locations which are more convenient rather than moving far away from the city to search for lower rents. The subsidized buildings which are commonly known as housing projects have a history which is somehow complicated in the United States. During the first decades, the projects were built with a broader range of incomes as well as higher standards of construction and the same applicants. As time went by, the public housing ended up becoming the housing of last resort in most \of the cities.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the involvement of the government in the housing of the poor was primarily in the area of the enforcement of the building code, forcing landlords to make some improvements and modifications to the buildings which already existed and making it a requirement that all new buildings must meet a particular standard of livability such as proper ventilation (Erickson & Wilhelm, 2017). This is to mean that, back in those days, the government was not directly involved in the housing of the poor in the society, but was just involved in ensuring that some specific standards were met by the private investors as they constructed the housing. In the year 1910, the national housing association was formed so as to help in improving the conditions of housing in urban and suburban neighborhoods through the implementation of increased awareness and better regulation. As time went on, the focus of the association shifted from proper building typology to the development of the society at a larger scale. However, in the year 1936, the national housing association was dissolved.
In 1923, the first public housing project referred to as Garden homes, was introduced. It was an experimental project with a housing cooperative which was sponsored by the municipal and it was successful initially (Erickson & Wilhelm, 2017). However, it was faced with land acquisition and development challenges and therefore the board which was overseeing the project decided to dissolve the garden homes corporation only two years after the homes were constructed.
Federally funded permanent housing began in the United States of America as part of the new deal of franklin Roosevelt. On 16th June, 1933, the national industrial recovery act was passed, which gave the Public Works Administration the mandate to develop a program for the “reconstruction, construction, alteration, or repair under public regulation or control of the low cost housing as well as slum clearance projects” (Erickson & Wilhelm, 2017). The Public Works Administration (PWA) was majorly aimed at providing loans with low interest to private or public groups to help them in the funding of low income housing construction. However, this program did not really work out as was expected. This is mainly because very few applicants who were qualified came forward, and the program was only in a position to fund the construction of just seven housing projects across the entire country.
The failure of the PWA to accomplish its mandate of funding the construction of low income housing meant that majority of the poor people in the United States still continued to experience a great challenge in their housing. The low income citizens did not only experience lack of enough funds to construct housing but also experienced low standards of housing (Erickson & Wilhelm, 2017).
It was clear that the low income citizens were experiencing a great challenge in the funding of housing constructions. Additionally, they could not afford the construction of decent permanent housing and they majorly depended on rented houses which even sometimes were of low standards. Therefore, this necessitated the development of the housing policy so as to ensure that the citizens were able to access affordable and quality housing (Balchin & Rhoden, 2019).
Practice Implications of the Housing Policy
Housing is generally well understood as a significant social determinant of mental and physical health as well as the general well-being (Dieleman, 2017). In the context of the ongoing state and national efforts to have major reforms in the health care sector, it is significant for the policy makers to understand the numerous pathways in which housing impacts healthcare. Affordable housing helps in reducing crowding and ensures that there are more household resources available to enable the citizens to pay for healthy foods and healthcare. This in turn leads to a better outcome on the health sector. Additionally, affordable and stable housing also helps in ensuring that mental health is maintained through reducing stressors which are attached to financial burden, numerous and frequent moves, or also offering an option to escape the home environment in situations where the environment is abusive (Dieleman, 2017).
High quality housing helps in reducing chances of the citizens being exposed to environmental toxins which have a negative impact on their health. Affordable housing also helps in providing supportive services which are aimed at improving the health of the vulnerable groups within the population of the country such as people living with disabilities, the elderly, as well as families and individuals who are homeless (Dieleman, 2017). Affordable, safe and decent housing within the neighborhoods can as well offer benefits to households with low income. Affordable housing can help in the improvements of health outcomes through ensuring the freeing up of resources for healthcare and nutritious food expenditure, this would mean that the resources which would otherwise have been used to finance housing are diverted and utilized in the payment or financing health care and nutritious food expenditure. Families which end up paying most of their income on housing end up have insufficient funds remaining so as to finance other essential needs such as health insurance, healthcare and food.
Through providing families with improved residential stability, affordable housing can greatly help in the reduction of stress and other negative health outcomes. Studies indicate that children who are homeless are more vulnerable to mental health related complications, poor cognitive outcomes, delays in development and depression as compared to children who have proper housing. Well maintained and well-constructed affordable housing helps in reducing problems of an individual’s health which are associated with housing that is of low quality (Dieleman, 2017). In situations where families are not given an option of affordable housing, they may opt for substandard housing which makes them to be vulnerable to accidental injury, asthma, and risk of lead poisoning.
The housing policy also has some impact on the education sector. This is evident whereby resources which would otherwise have been used to cater for housing are diverted to the education sector (Dieleman, 2017). This would mean that families now use such resources to finance the education of their children. This could be through paying school fees and buying necessary stationary for smooth learning process. Affordable housing can also help in ensuring that children perform better in class. Children who come from homeless families are more likely to perform poorly in class as compared to children who come from families with proper housing.
Strengths of the Housing Policy
According to Balchin & Rhoden (2019), below prevailing market prices is a major strength of the housing policy. The housing policy offers economical and adequate housing to people with disabilities, senior citizens and low wage workers. In order to ensure that the units are affordable, the estimated rental for the housing are usually below the prevailing market rent in that given area which in turn helps in ensuring there is an increase in the total disposable income of the people who live in those houses. Therefore, this gives those people an opportunity to pump more finances into the local economy. Property maintenance and safety is also strength of the housing policy. The residents who live in the public housing project usually enjoy certain benefits such as government regulated cleaning and maintenance of the property and child protection (Balchin & Rhoden, 2019). There are also other benefits concerning safety such as 24 hours security, visitor screening as well as video surveillance.
Land and resource utilization is also strength of the housing policy. The housing policy ensures that there is economical and sound use of land and other urban resources; additionally it has a positive impact on the employment of the community around (Balchin & Rhoden, 2019). The construction of the policy houses in any given area is usually very beneficial to that given area. The benefits may include; boosting salaried and employment opportunities as well as boosting the local construction and maintenance companies.
Limitations of the Housing Policy
Many people have a tendency of living in areas which are more familiar to them. Therefore, some people may find it difficult to move to other places which are far away from the areas they are used to stay in search of the affordable housing provided by the government (Balchin & Rhoden, 2019). Therefore it becomes somehow difficult for the housing policy to reach all people and more so those who may be adamant to move to other places.
Briefing Note on the Strengths and Limitations of the Housing Policy
The purpose for this briefing is to present the established strengths and limitations of the housing policy.
This briefing was necessitated by the need of fellow policy makers to know the progress of the housing policy and how it is being implemented. They also needed to know what has been achieved and what has not been achieved and the reasons as to why.
The housing policy to a great extend has been successful mainly due to the following strengths;
The budget allocated to financing the project has been increased hence reducing the financial constraints (Bell & Rice, 2018).
There are additional benefits which residents of the housing policy enjoy such as 24-hours security and child protection.
The prices offered to the citizens who want to acquire the houses are below the prevailing market prices.
The housing policy has not been perfectly successful due to the following limitations;
Most people find it difficult to move to places unfamiliar to them
The funds allocated to the housing policy are not yet enough to meet the current demand for the affordable housing.
Recommendations on Ways of Improving the Housing Policy
Information about the housing transactions should be made clear. This will help in ensuring that people as well as companies are able to make better decisions because all the information needed to make such decisions is easy to understand and clear. There should also be increased use of clean building technologies and materials as well as construction in appropriate locations. This will help in mitigating negative environmental impacts which may arise during the implementation of the housing policy. The supply of the housing should be expanded so as to meet the prevailing demand (Balchin & Rhoden, 2019). National, regional and state policymakers should work towards reducing barriers to housing supply. The income of poor families should also be increased. This will help in ensuring that the poor families are also in a position to achieve housing stability.
In conclusion, before the introduction of the housing policy, many people experienced great challenges in housing. Most people were almost homeless while others lived in houses with very low standards. However, after the introduction of the housing policy most people are now able to afford decent homes for their families. The government, through the housing policy has greatly helped in improving standards of living of its citizens. The housing policy has had an impact on other sectors of the economy as well as on service delivery by the government. Some of the sectors which have been impacted by the housing policy are the health sector and the education sector. It is worth noting that the housing policy has some strengths and weaknesses. Some of its strengths are property maintenance and safety and below prevailing market prices. One of its weaknesses is tendency of people to live in places familiar to them.
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Balchin, P., & Rhoden, M. (2019). Housing policy: an introduction. Routledge.
Bell, A., & Rice, D. (2018) Congress Prioritizes Housing Programs in 2018 Funding Bill, Rejects Trump Administration Proposals. Retrieved from: https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/congress-prioritizes-housing-programs-in-2018-funding-bill-rejects-trump
Dieleman, F. (2017). Households and housing: Choice and outcomes in the housing market. Routledge.
Erickson, J., & Wilhelm, C. (2017). Housing the homeless. Routledge.