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Affordable housing brings economic, social benefits

But panelists say housing policy not a big public discussion

Housing policy is generally not at the forefront of public debate, a panel of experts said this morning at a conference on "Building the Promise: Housing Assistance as Social Investment." The morning panel, part of the fifth annual Berkeley Conference on Housing and Urban Policy, focused primarily on public housing and studies that show the benefits of such housing go beyond economics. Public housing, panelists said, brings social benefits as well, such as a positive impact on children. Several of the panelists also touched on home ownership. Sandra Newman, a professor of policy studies at Johns Hopkins University, said "home ownership really brings a large number of benefits to children." But, she said, it's not clear yet from studies whether that's because of something inherent in owning a home or perhaps because families who own homes tend to be more stable than those who rent. She said policy makers must decide whether developing home ownership programs for lower-income neighb...

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