Senior Policy Analyst
Federal rental assistance programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers and public housing provide major benefits to low-income families, our new analysis explains, but more than 3 in 4 families that need rental assistance don’t get it due to funding limitations.
Among other benefits, rental assistance:
Nevertheless, roughly 16 million low-income households that need rental assistance (meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing or live in substandard or overcrowded homes) don’t get it due to funding limitations.
Policymakers should extend rental assistance to many more households by expanding the voucher program or through other approaches, such as establishing a federal renters’ tax credit to make housing affordable to some extremely low-income households. Policymakers also should do more to help families that have rental assistance to live in higher-opportunity neighborhoods if they want to. In particular, they could provide housing agencies and their partners with funding for “mobility assistance” services such as recruiting landlords in high-opportunity neighborhoods to rent to rental assistance recipients, counseling families on how to find housing, and providing financial assistance for costs such as security deposits.
Expanding rental assistance and enabling more assisted households to live in higher-opportunity areas would help people struggling with poverty, unaffordable housing, and the effects of racial and economic segregation, the research that we cite in our new report indicates. Fewer people would live in shelters, motels, on the street, or doubled up in unstable arrangements; fewer families, seniors, and people with disabilities would have to choose each month between paying the rent and buying needed medicine or food; and more children would have access to stable housing and opportunity-rich neighborhoods. Taken together, these benefits could substantially reduce low-income peoples’ exposure to hardship and improve their children’s chances of long-term success.