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Identifying Households which Need Housing Assistance


  • Philippe Thalmann

    (Department of Architecture, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, EPFL-IREC, C.P. 555, 1001 Lausanne, Switzerland,


This paper proposes a method for identifying housing affordability problems. The housing market being imperfect, high rent-to-income ratios might be the result not only of a taste for spacious housing but also of rent premia. Conversely, some households currently in advantageous housing may face difficulty when they move. A better indicator of affordability compares income to the average rent the market charges for housing deemed appropriate for a household, and a second indicator compares current housing consumption with appropriate consumption. We find that more than two households out of three that have high rent burdens could afford appropriate housing. Almost one household in two that cannot afford appropriate housing manages to keep its rent burden low. This paper makes a point for co-ordinating tenant-based assistance with other instruments of housing aid.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Thalmann, 1999. "Identifying Households which Need Housing Assistance," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 36(11), pages 1933-1947, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:36:y:1999:i:11:p:1933-1947

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    1. repec:eee:jhouse:v:45:y:2019:i:c:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Andrea Kunnert, 2016. "Housing Affordability in Austria. Tailoring the Ratio Approach in a Simple yet Effective Way," WIFO Working Papers 520, WIFO.
    3. Ekong, Christopher N. & Onye, Kenneth U., 2013. "Building Sustainable Cities in Nigeria: The Need for Mass and Social Housing Provision," MPRA Paper 88236, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gennadi Kazakevitch & Luc Borrowman, 2009. "Housing affordability: Proper Measurement for Informed Policy Making," Monash Economics Working Papers 08-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    5. Matlack, Janna L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "Do rising tides lift all prices? Income inequality and housing affordability," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 212-224, September.
    6. Andrea Kunnert, 2016. "Housing Affordability in Austria by Age and Year of Move-in. Application of the Residual Income and Tailored Ratio Approach," WIFO Working Papers 521, WIFO.

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