“I've been convinced that there were a lot of good things tried in the 1960s, and unfortunately, the only failures still visible are the housing failures,” notes Cushing Dolbeare of Mitchellville, Md., a senior scholar at the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. “People tend to spot a high-rise and get this image of massive high-rise development. But that was only 10 percent of the [affordable] housing stock.

“Especially in small communities,” she continues, “federal housing was very successful. When the Section 8 program was designed, it was intended as mixed-income housing. A great many have been very successful, and those neighborhoods are thriving. The problem is that the public tends to assume that whenever they see rental housing in lousy condition, it's subsidized housing. But it may or may not be.”