Limitations Of Housing Vouchers

Limitations Of Housing VouchersThe federal Housing Choice Voucher Program helps to address the housing needs of the extremely low-income households. It gives the recipients the freedom to choose the kind of housing and the location that best meets their needs. However, the program has not been as effective in promoting residential choice and mobility among the minority as it has been for whites. White voucher recipients have gained access to housing in a substantially wider range of metropolitan neighborhoods than have African Americans and Hispanics.

Not all families who receive vouchers are able to find a house or apartment where they can use them. Only about one in every three eligible families receives a voucher; and only 69 percent of those that receive the vouchers are successful in using them. Some families who receive vouchers are unable to find a house or apartment where they can use them.

As identified in the study, these are the reasons for the inadequacy of the housing voucher program:

Shortage of moderately-priced rental housing

vacancy rates are low, and rents are rising rapidly; the program relies on existing housing stock

Tight market conditions

rental markets in many metropolitan areas are very tight.

Racial and ethnic discrimination

minorities face significant barriers to entry into white suburban neighborhoods. In addition, some suburban communities have resisted the influx of voucher recipients from other jurisdictions, due to prejudice and fear about racial and economic change, and about the crime and social service needs that these new residents are expected to bring

Uncooperative landlords

Many landlords are not willing to participate in the voucher program especially during peak season. Some may have doubts about whether the low-income households who receive vouchers will be good tenants, and whether program regulations will prevent them from rejecting unqualified applicants or evicting problem tenants. Some landlords fear that participating in the program could get them entangled in red tape and bureaucratic hassles. Their fears have been fueled by the poor reputation of the local housing agency. A housing agency known for delays in conducting inspections and approving leases, unreliability in making subsidy payments, and lack of responsiveness to landlord inquiries or complaints is likely to have serious problems convincing local landlords to participate in the voucher program. Landlords may be less willing to rent to public housing families with children, limiting their choices of housing and neighborhoods.

Ineffective local administration

African Americans and other minority recipients encounter problems with program administration and regulations, racial discrimination and segregated housing markets. Minority recipients still face high levels of adverse treatment in urban housing markets

Inadequate federal budget for affordable housing

The government does not invest enough in new affordable housing for the poor.

Bureaucratic caseloads

Transferring vouchers from one locality to another can be a nightmare, not only for families but also for the sending and receiving housing authorities.

Recommendations:

Aggressive landlord outreach, service, and incentives, though sometimes viewed as a component of mobility counseling, actually involve very different activities. Housing agencies can significantly expand the options available to voucher recipients and improve recipients' success in finding suitable housing by :

  • Mobility counseling and assistance can help voucher recipients understand the locational options available, identify housing opportunities, and negotiate effectively with landlords.
  • Aggressive landlord outreach, service, and incentives can substantially expand the housing options available to voucher recipients; improve recipients' success in finding suitable housing by continuously recruiting new landlords to participate in the program; listening to landlord concerns about how the program operates, addressing red tape and other disincentives to landlord participation, and -- in some cases--offering financial incentives to landlords to accept voucher recipients.
  • Regional collaboration and/or regional administration of the voucher program can help address the administrative barriers to portability across jurisdictions, and make the program more transparent to both landlords and participants. entered in formal agreements that facilitate the movement of voucher recipients among regions.