Pew Study Tracks Government Spending on Housing Sector

Pew Study Tracks Government Spending on Housing Sector

The federal government spent about $244 billion on housing-related grants and tax expenditures in fiscal year 2009, or roughly $2,085 per household, according to a new study by Pew’s Subsidyscope project. By contrast, the government devoted a per-household average of $212 to the energy sector, $400 to transportation, and $429 to the nonprofit sector.

These figures, according to Pew, do not include subsidy cost estimates for housing loans and guarantee programs because they are uncertain and likely underestimates. Nor do they include substantial liabilities the government assumed when it took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because of the wide range of estimates measuring the total cost to the taxpayer.

“Not surprising, housing subsidies are a key component of the federal debate of how to reduce the debt and deficit,” said Subsidyscope project manager, Lori Metcalf. “With billions of dollars going to this sector, it is important that legislators have data to understand this spending.”

While the study found $171 billion (70 percent) of the total housing spending going to programs that support homeownership, only $58 billion (24 percent) went to rental housing programs, and 6 percent went to programs that support both.

It found that the largest federal program for rental housing is the Section 8 voucher program, which cost $16.3 billion in FY 2009.