Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



Housing policy in the United States has traditionally focused on the provision of single-family, owner-occupied suburban homes. The reasons for such policies can be traced to a belief in the theory of filtering and an emphasis upon the normal and the average. Another factor which has affected policy, though not always explicitly, is the differences in attitude which exist between people who rent and people who own. These differences, among other things, affect the communications which these two groups of people have with the government. Because of these differences the government is more responsive to owners than to renters. Data from the Citizen Attitude Survey done by the Urban Observatory Program, National League of Cities, in 1970, was used to study what differences exist between people who own and people who rent. Using Hollingshead's Index of Social Position, Abu-Lughod and Foley's study of the family lifecycle in relation to housing, and tenure choice as three factors, the author divided the respondents of the Survey into eight groups. These groups of respondents were then compared to each other on questions of attitude toward their housing and neighborhoods, attitudes towards their government and its officials, and on the respondents’ participation in the political process. Those who rent were found to be less satisfied than those who own. The people who rent were less satisfied with their neighborhoods, more inclined to think their city was not run well enough, that the government had deteriorated in the recent past, that their officials were not concerned with the same problems that they were, that corruption existed, and that the courts were not fair. It was also found that despite this negative attitude about the government, those who rented did not participate in the political process to effect change. Instead, they were less likely to pay attention to news media and less likely to belong to political organizations than were people who owned. This lack of participation and negative attitude toward the government by renter is crucial to the formulation of housing policy. At any level of government in this country, policy is made through a political process in a political context. The government is structured to respond to citizen pressure. Because those who rent participate less in this political system, they are not heard, and hence the policy makers and administrators ignore their need end desires. Housing policy instead has focused primarily on those persons who are most likely to participate in the system - the typical family which wants to own its own home. Only if policy makers and administrators become aware of this more silent population of people who desire to rent can policies affecting housing be changed to more closely reflect the desires of all citizens.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Donald Winston Smithburg

Second Committee Member

Vladmir V. Berniklau

Third Committee Member




Document Type