Locating and maintaining affordable housing is difficult for poor families in virtually all nations. Housing is a critical need because it affects many other areas of social and individual life, including child welfare, health, and access to safe and stable neighborhoods. In most nations, patterns of economic development made private, market-rate housing out of reach for low-income families. Faced with this difficulty, it became increasingly common for nations to incorporate housing assistance programs into their welfare states. This assistance can take a number of forms. Public housing (the United States) or social housing (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, nations) programs provide subsidized rents.

As modern industrialized welfare states expanded after World War II, most European countries developed public or social housing programs that ...

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