Consistent with current trends in American policy, approaches that help recipients of public assistance participate in the regular housing market are desirable. This preference is not so strong as to mandate massive and abrupt changes in housing policy. And in specific urban areas, and perhaps other locales, expanded direct provision of accessible public housing units remains essential. But overall I would suggest that housing is best regarded as an aspect of income maintenance and that we continue to reduce the direct public provision of housing units, as feasible.
The use of housing vouchers, rather than cash payments, is an option that has achieved some support in recent years. Vouchers involve more complicated administrative services than cash, but
they may be more politically acceptable to citizens who raise suspicions about how public program recipients use their benefits. Vouchers are compatible with an approach to housing as an income-maintenance matter as long as the vouchers are legal tender for housing, and recipients are allowed some flexibility with respect to rents. For instance, households eligible for income-maintenance payments under social merging programs might be given a housing voucher worth one-half of their monthly cash benefits. Thus benefits for housing would amount to one-third of the income-maintenance total. Recipients could choose whatever housing they preferred, paying higher rent or home payments out of their pocket. This feature would be particularly helpful for families who do not want to move or sell their homes during a short-term disruption of income. And we ought also to continue giving recipients cash rebates for rents that do not consume a stipulated portion of their income-maintenance benefits.