Authors: Anne B. Shlay
Fannie Mae Foundation

Housing is central to participation in the economic mainstream, yet housing policy has been fragmented by competing, if not contradictory, goals. This article proposes an expanded policy that incorporates a stronger link between housing and economic inequality. Through examples, the author argues that housing policy should be a tool for economic development, strengthening families, and building community. Definitions of adequate housing must go beyond minimum physical standards to include issues that are central to people's ability to become successful members of society; housing can be an economic entity, a consumer item, or a spatial location. Going beyond bricks and mortar -- making connections between housing policy and seemingly separate areas -- allows policy to be more coherent. This article examines the links between housing and three vital areas: family life, community economic development, and social mobility. This analysis suggests that the most important housing problems are affordability, neighborhood underdevelopment, and spatial inequality.

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