This paper considers the evolution and patterns of federal low-income housing policies and programs over roughly the past half-century. It begins with an overview of the multifaceted involvement of the federal government in housingÂonly one aspect of which is its intervention in the low-income sector. This is followed by an overview of federal low-income housing policy from the New Deal to today. The underlying assumptions and approaches of these policies are then considered with respect to such considerations as the government's presence and role, its targeting of assistance, and the selection of subsidy levels and vehicles. The paper concludes with a brief review of the implications of the historical record for future policy.