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June 20, 2007

Public Housing Should Be Crap

So, I wandering through a graduate text on poverty ( as you do...Poverty and Discrimination, Kevin Lang.) and I come across this:

However, if government offers subsidized housing, people who have significant resources will prefer the higher-quality housing available at the market price to the lower-quality housing available at the subsidized price. In this way, government can put fewer resources into identifying who is really poor and may be more effective at targeting resources at the truly poor.

So council and other forms of social housing should intentionally be crap so as to make the best use of scarce resources.

Interesting, don't you think?

June 20, 2007 in Make Poverty History | Permalink


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Amazing how our ancestors figured this out when they invented the workhouse without any help from economists, sociologists etc. etc.

Posted by: Francis | Jun 20, 2007 11:46:35 AM

It is also why military ration packs are nutritious & convenient but (generally) taste poor - as soon as they make them appetising, they walk straight out of the warehouse.

At least, that's the excuse. Now about the bromide in the tea ...


Posted by: Surreptitious Evil | Jun 20, 2007 12:57:47 PM

Actually, it wouldn't have to be worse in the sense of being "crap," just less convenient, such as by charging for permission to redecorate, and things like that.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Jun 20, 2007 1:18:23 PM

I don't think 'crap' is the right term.

Basic. Utilitarian. Cramped even. People should want to get out of them asap.

What boils my fluids is the notion of "duty of care" so we end up with State tenants that get better kitchens, decoration and a free upgrade to a larger property if they collect enough DNA coupons (called 'children') etc. than independent individuals.

I still believe one of the keys to all of this is to not give additional housing space once a family gets State housing. If you want more rooms, go rent outside.

Posted by: Roger Thornhill | Jun 20, 2007 3:04:17 PM

No need to worry about whether public housing should or shouldn't be crap. Most of it is, just as most government provided services are. That's the way it is, and why people with money minimise their use of public provision such as housing, healthcare, pensions and education.

Posted by: Pete | Jun 20, 2007 4:54:04 PM

Social housing is crap, regarless of the housing, by definition: the one thing that it is constant about social housing is the neighbours!

Posted by: Kay Tie | Jun 20, 2007 7:37:23 PM

Roger T, Kay Tie, seconded.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jun 20, 2007 8:18:38 PM

One of the things I find fascinating about social housing is how much higher an opinion of it is held by people who actually use it than by people who don't but who nevertheless feel entitled to spout off about it like they never would about any other service they don't use.

Posted by: Jim | Jun 20, 2007 10:04:30 PM