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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Need for government assistance in housing Davis, Ivern Ulysses

Abstract

Housing is one of the major problems in North America This problem becomes more acute daily in the urban centers as (1) the population explosion continues; (2) the process of urbanization increases; and (3) new household units are formed in greater numbers. Although in the United States and Canada there is no street sleeping and squatting as there is in India and other countries of Asia and South America, nevertheless, the inadequate conditions of housing of the slums and blighted areas result partially from the pressure for shelter caused by these three demographical factors. The problem of housing is essentially a problem of enabling every citizen to obtain decent accommodation at a price that he can afford. In addition to the demographic factors already mentioned, other dimensions of complexity of this problem are contributed by the fact that housing deficiencies correlate closely with low income levels, inferior employment and educational opportunities, and frequently, racial discrimination. This problem is further compounded by the increasing cost of housing construction. The search for further solutions to alleviate the housing problem, and the realization of the inter-relationship of housing standards, housing costs, and income led to the study hypothesis: That there is a certain family income level below which adequate housing cannot be obtained without assistance. A technological break-through in the housing industry can ease considerably the present housing problem. Of all man's necessities, however, housing has seen the fewest production changes in recent centuries. Until such breakthrough is achieved the existing resources must be used to combat the problem. Since the "New Deal" of the 1930's both the governments of Canada and the United States have actively participated in housing assistance and support programs. These programs, however, have not assisted the low income groups as much as the middle and upper income groups. Of over 73,000 FHA applications in 1967 only 5,000 were for a variety of social purposes which included low-income housing. The housing codes, urban renewal programs, and public housing projects have not yet sufficed to provide every North American family with a home of adequate standards. Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, head of the Commission on a Civil Disorder, regards poor housing as one of the major causes of the social problems now facing almost every American city. A recent HUD study forecasts a need, greatest among the urban poor, for 22.5 million units of new housing in the next decade. The question is, how can this need be met? This study essentially reviews some of the methods by which government can assist low income families and households in obtaining adequate housing. The review begins with an examination of the nature of the housing problems in which the inter-relationship of housing standards, housing costs, and family incomes are analysed and evaluated. The conclusions from the review were; (1) that the costs of housing increase with the level of standard, and (2) that family income was the primary obstacle to adequate housing. The significant findings have been that a wider choice of methods of housing assistance can be adopted, as well as a wider choice of type and tenure of accommodations. Such range of choice can alleviate many of the present problems in urban renewal and relocation programs and most of all reduce the need for substandard dwelling units. In view of these findings and recognizing that adequate housing is in the interest of the family, the community, and the nation, the thesis investigates some of the ways by which the amount and method of assistance required by the low income groups may be determined if they are to be housed adequately. By means of the case study method the hypothesis was tested and verified. The most significant conclusion drawn from the case study is the substantiation of the validity of the hypothesis: That there is a certain family income level below which adequate housing cannot be obtained without assistance. This income level is established by the cost of minimum standard of socially and officially accepted housing. The measurement of this income level is therefore dependent on two factors: (1) determining what is the minimum housing standard for a family, with due regards to family size, and existing social, cultural, and official attitudes; and (2) determining what is the minimum cost of such standard of housing, with due regards to existing construction methodology and practices, technological skills, and available materials.

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