Vice President for Housing Policy
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program has reduced families’ housing cost burdens and homelessness and
their housing stability, but its performance in helping families live in low-poverty, high-opportunity neighborhoods has been disappointing, as we explain in our recent paper.
Overall, just about 20 percent of the families with children who use housing vouchers live in high-opportunity neighborhoods with access to good schools, safe streets, and high rates of employment. Almost 10 percent — including a quarter of a million children — of families in the program live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods, where at least 40 percent of the residents are poor.
In most metro areas, there are enough rental units to enable a much larger share of families to use their vouchers to live in better areas. That more families don’t reflects, at least in part, the constraints families face in using vouchers to access neighborhoods that provide greater opportunities.
Federal, state, and local agencies can make four sets of policy changes that can help more HCV families to live in better locations:
We can make substantial progress toward these goals in the next few years, even in the current fiscally constrained environment and even without congressional action or more federal funding.
We can also do more to help families in project-based rental assistance to live in lower-poverty neighborhoods. We’ll take a look at two such promising programs in a post later this week.