The term “social housing” encompasses various ownership models, all with an emphasis on divorcing housing from market forces. Decades of disinvestment and mismanagement have stigmatized the idea and word choice of public housing. But it’s not clear that a new moniker resolves the challenges of building public housing.

That did not stop New York state lawmakers this year from proposing a Social Housing Authority that would build and own affordable housing. The authority would renovate buildings or acquire land to construct permanently affordable homes.

“You have to look at the fundamental challenge of building affordable housing: reconciling the very high costs of building and the low prices in rents,” said Howard Slatkin, executive director of the New York City-based Citizens Housing & Planning Council. “This is about how best to allocate a limited set of resources.”

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