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Section 8

Then there’s Section 8. Here’s an op-ed in the New York Times, August 6, 2004, by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson arguing for a change in the program. Remember, the whole crisis was caused by market failure:

Section 8, the federal program created in 1975 to provide
low-income families with the opportunity to rent safe and affordable
housing in the private market, is broken. The Department of Housing and
Urban Development has a plan to fix it. If Congress passes the flexible
voucher program we have proposed, President Bush and I are convinced
that we can better serve the two million families who depend on Section
8 — and help even more Americans find affordable housing in the

Over three decades, Section 8 has grown into an overly
prescriptive and unwieldy program. It has separate rules for more than
a dozen different types of housing vouchers, along with 120 pages of
regulations. Costs have spiraled out of control, without a
corresponding gain in benefits.

Five years ago, Section 8
consumed 36 percent of HUD’s budget; today, it absorbs more than half.
In the past four years, the financing needed for the program has
increased by 41 percent, to $20 billion a year. This growth rate is not
sustainable, and it has already begun eating away at other essential
HUD programs.