Conversations around public housing have been largely focused on low-income housing and housing for the poor. Indeed, the biggest beneficiaries of public housing are and always will be those who may not be able to afford private housing. However, American public housing is an unmitigated disaster. Reforming and growing our public housing to levels present in almost all other developed countries is essential for solving our homelessness and houselessness crisis. As always, creating a universal program is best for political and practical purposes; but, universal housing is simply unpractical. Our solution, therefore, is a hybrid system.
We believe that the best way to solve the housing, homelessness and houselessness crisis is to build high-quality and dense public housing where all Americans are eligible to live in, but where the tenant's rent varies by their income and assets. Essentially, while everyone gets access to the same housing, not everyone pays the same for that housing. Rich tenants in public housing would be paying more, and less fortunate tenants would be paying less. It is a progressive rent system intended to provide housing opportunity for all.
Of course, such a robust public housing apparatus would require two more elements: first, it needs to be built to a high enough of a standard as to attract some higher-paid tenants, and second, it needs to be paired with robust development of private housing so that the number of higher-paid tenants does not exceed the number of lower-income tenants. It is a difficult balancing act, but one that is necessary for accomplishing our goal of having no Americans left on the streets.