Roger Starr's acquaintance with housing needs goes back to the time when, 30 years ago, one-third of the nation was deemed to be ill-housed--a figure (dubiously) reduced to less than one-tenth by the 1970 census. But, he contends, those unhappy few are the hardest to help: ""Whereas reformist efforts in housing were formerly intended to benefit the working population at the purported expense of the rich, further progress will necessarily benefit the nonworking poor at an apparent cost to the power, the comfort, and even the safety of the working class."" White hostility to black projects apart, the high building standards ""set by the laws sponsored by the reformists"" price housing beyond the reach of low-income families--forcing them to depend on private philanthropy (in the early 1900s), the cooperative movement (successful in the 1920s, precarious in the '70s), and one after another form of public housing. Start, who concentrates on finance, can explain why every scheme failed and others might (e.g., ""the federal government seems disinclined to insure these local government loans for the very good reason that it would have little or no way to protect itself against imprudence""). He is especially wary of the social deviates ""beyond the reach of the behavioral sciences at the present time"" who foul the common nest. When a weary reformer turns on ""reformists,"" watch out: Stair, it seems, is hardly up to the challenge of keeping hope alive.