By the mid-1990s, a general consensus had emerged that in too many instances, public housing failed to provide quality, affordable housing to the nation's neediest families. While a series of incremental reforms were implemented in the 1990s, the biggest attempt to remake public housing came in 1998 -- the year that Congress and the president enacted the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act. The act is the most comprehensive effort in the history of public housing to overhaul this program. By including reforms to both the public housing and tenant-based voucher programs, the act affects approximately 3.3 million families.
This paper reviews the progress of these important federal housing reforms since 1998, including the latest actions reflected in the FY 2005 appropriations bill. It examines the extent to which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and its local partners have implemented changes to transform the physical, social, and economic setting of public housing, improve its overall management, and enhance the voucher program. The paper also identifies outstanding concerns and ways in which HUD, Congress, and public housing authorities can ensure that the full intent of the act is carried out.