As was the case in 1999, the major housing problem facing residents of New York City in 2005 is the affordability of housing. More than one out of every five renters in the city pay over half their incomes in rent. It is especially problematic that the vast majority of households who experience these severe housing affordability problems earn low incomes. Nevertheless, high housing costs are a significant problem for households throughout the income spectrum. While limited data suggest that housing affordability problems may have moderated a tiny bit for renters from 1999 to 2004, they worsened for owners.
The redevelopment of distressed public housing under the Urban Revitalization Demonstration Program, or HOPE VI, has laudable social, physical, community, and economic goals. Three public housing projects in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Antonio demonstrate the complexity and trade-offs of trying to lessen the concentration of low-income households, leverage private resources, limit project costs, help residents achieve economic self-sufficiency, design projects that blend into the community, and ensure meaningful resident participation in project planning.