Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Opportunity Illusion: Subsidized Housing and Failing Schools in California

  • Author(s): Pfeiffer, Deirdre
  • et al.

The nation’s largest low income housing production program, the awkwardly named Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), is providing billions of dollars for building homes across the country. It has been the only significant source of funds for building housing for poor families since the l980s. Yet few people know of its existence, fewer understand its complex mechanisms, and there has been virtually no information to answer critical questions about it. What we do know is that LIHTC is a costly program producing much needed affordable housing in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, where millions of people cannot afford to pay the cost of adequate housing. Who is it helping? Is it giving the children in these homes a better chance in life? Is it serving all groups in our society fairly? Is it opening up housing across the region’s color lines or is it investing in segregation? These are vital questions to ask, especially now with the collapse of the housing market and the financing freeze stalling new projects. Broadly speaking, is the public investment paying off for those it is supposed to help?

Foreward by Gary Orfield

Also available at

Main Content
Current View