In this week of memorials for President Ronald Reagan, the bi-partisan acknowledgements are overwhelming. It is amazing what death and time do to heal partisan wounds.
On the issues, the Democrats must concede that Reagan wasn’t quite as bad as they had feared, considering Democrats executed many of his policy ideas. For example, Reagan castigated welfare moms, but President Bill Clinton put most of them back to work.
On affordable housing in the early 1980s, Reagan was the devil incarnate with his aggressive policies to wipe out federally subsidized housing programs. Looking back, he was right on several fronts.
Many of those programs were not working. They overpromised results and were an inefficient way to provide affordable housing. At the time, Reagan’s housing policies seemed cold and calculated and to a degree they were, considering that plans to replace them were not in place.
However, leftist housing advocates rallied to fill the void. The low-income housing tax credit program that gave private incentives for investment in affordable housing was birthed from the Reagan revolution, and this method became a far better local way to deliver federal subsidies and build affordable housing.
Moreover, local nonprofits mushroomed in popularity during the Reagan years, and now they represent the best way to provide low-cost housing with better design, lower costs and better service.
A crisis often creates growth and progress.
In the 1980s, Reagan confronted the historic thinking on affordable housing, and he turned on its ear the liberal constituency that invented many of the failed housing programs.
The result is a better, more efficient and less costly way of providing affordable housing.
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