Unfortunately, few of the charges made in that three‐part argument are true, and the ones that are true are largely irrelevant. Authorizations of federal housing funds decreased during the 1980s, but in constant dollars, outlays increased by more than 65 percent. Nor has there been a reduction in the construction of public housing, even though Congress authorized far less during the Reagan administration; a large number of previously authorized units have been brought on line.
Finally, the alleged misappropriation of Section 8 moderate‐rehabilitation program funds is certainly reprehensible, and the stolen money should be recovered if possible. But that scandal is little more than a side show to the housing situation. Section 8 had long been infamous for creating an account that serves as a slush fund and benefiting the middle class. It was precisely for those reasons that the Reagan administration tried to eliminate it.
What is most significant, perhaps, is that in the wake of the HUD scandals, few Americans are aware of a great accomplishment of the Reagan administration: the long‐awaited introduction of a true housing voucher. Largely because of its partisanship, the press has taken little notice of that development except to condemn it once in a while. Nevertheless, the voucher program is a remarkable success and is rapidly revolutionizing housing assistance. Moreover, unlike previous programs, it is practically immune from corruption because the vouchers are awarded to tenants rather than housing providers.
Clearly the argument that the federal government is the source of the nation’s housing problem is flawed. Let us consider the three‐count indictment of Reagan‐era federal housing policies at length.