In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply

Share:
In partnership with:
May 9, 2017

More and more Americans are struggling to make rent. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted.

Today, in a joint investigation called Poverty, Politics and Profit, FRONTLINE and NPR join forces to examine the crisis in affordable housing, exploring why so few people are getting the help they need, and whether government programs designed to aid low-income Americans with rent are working as they should.

One of those programs, called the low-income housing tax credit, relies on partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states, who then award the credits to developers. The developers sell them for cash to investors, mostly banks, and then use that money to help build apartment buildings. And because taxpayer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents required.

The program, which has cost about $8 billion annually in recent years, is often described by supporters as a win-win: Low-income people get quality affordable housing and the private sector makes money. But in Poverty, Politics, and Profit, NPR and FRONTLINE crunch the numbers — and find that the program is costing taxpayers more in tax credits, but producing fewer units.

In the above excerpt from tonight’s documentary, produced by FRONTLINE’s Rick Young and his team, follow Laura Sullivan of NPR as she tries to find out why.

Then for more on the story, listen to All Things Considered today and watch FRONTLINE tonight. From exploring why those who receive Section 8 vouchers often struggle to find housing, to examining charges that developers have stolen money meant to house low-income people, to delving into the legacy of segregation in government housing programs, Poverty, Politics and Profit is a probing exploration of a system in crisis.

Watch Poverty, Politics and Profit starting Tuesday, May 9 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on FRONTLINE (check local PBS listings), and listen May 9 on NPR’s All Things Considered.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

'You Feel Safe One Second and Then Boom': A Conversation With the Filmmakers of 'Ukraine: Life Under Russia's Attack'
The filmmakers of "Ukraine: Life Under Russia's Attack" spoke about documenting life under bombardment and why they felt it was important to bring this story to an American audience.
August 2, 2022
Life Underground: Inside a Kharkiv Metro Station, Home to Hundreds Amid Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
‘We understand there’s a war. But we don’t understand why it has started,’ said one 10-year-old living underground. An excerpt from the new documentary "Ukraine: Life Under Russia’s Attack."
August 2, 2022
U.S. Cities and States Are Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change. Here’s What the Claims Say and Where They Stand.
In a relatively new legal maneuver, cities and states across the U.S. are alleging major players in the fossil fuel industry misled the public on climate change to devastating effect. Legal experts anticipate a long road ahead.
August 1, 2022
FRONTLINE Nominated for 13 Emmy Awards
The series' 13 nods included two nominations in the prestigious “Best Documentary” category for the 2021 documentaries "A Thousand Cuts" and "American Insurrection." 
July 28, 2022