Will American Social Housing Die A Neoliberal Death Of A Thousand Cuts?

an open air biplane flies over a modern city
This scene was created by affordablehousingaction.org and is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Small may be beautiful, but does it serve the greater needs of changing times?

Neoliberal thought has changed the world for several decades of application by governments and industries. That change has ultimately not fulfilled its dreams, although many still continue to adhere to its pathways of promise, if not fulfillment.

What was it meant to achieve, and by what ends? An ‘outside-in’ view from a United Kingdom journal, provides some degree of dispassion as it explores neoliberalism in America, then, now, and in the future.

One pillar of neoliberal thought has been as an advocate of ‘small government’. As such, it has had most profound effects upon conventional approaches to social housing. That has always been, in and of itself, an incurably ‘big government’ concept. In America, as in other countries, neoliberalism has optimistically promoted ‘small government’ solutions to social housing for those with the lowest incomes.

To a considerable degree, ‘small government’ replacements for social housing have almost universally been less successful than previous ‘big government’ solutions. It has led to an effective decay and abandonment of affordable housing for America’s underclasses. That tragedy has been promoted as a societal benefit by the free-market construction industry which, needless to say, can find lucrative uses for any space freed up by an aging social housing project that is conveniently knocked down.

Understanding neoliberalism’s effect on social housing in America begins with an understanding of neoliberalism and what its future might be, if any.  Read more in the New Statesman1: America after neoliberalism


  1. The New Statesman is paywalled but offers limited free read opportunities