Study: Housing Vouchers Fuel Racial Segregation

The trend should serve as a "wake-up call" for housing policy, researchers say.

1 minute read

February 6, 2019, 6:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden


Section 8 Kids

Beth Rankin / Flickr

Families using federal housing vouchers are funneled to low-income, racially segregated neighborhoods even when affordable homes are available in "higher opportunity" areas, a new study shows.

Across the country, the Washington Post reports, "just 5 percent of metropolitan families using vouchers live in high-opportunity neighborhoods even though those areas account for 18 percent of all affordable rentals." And it's Black and Latino voucher holders who most consistently end up in neighborhoods that lack access to quality schools, jobs, and transit.

To address the barriers that keep aid recipients out of wealthier neighborhoods, researchers from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council recommend specific tweaks to local voucher programs: calculating aid to reflect prices in specific ZIP codes and offering greater subsidies for apartments in more expensive communities. They also note that while some jurisdictions have outlawed source-of-income discrimination, federal law does not require landlords to accept housing vouchers. The Trump administration has opposed recent attempts to move HUD toward these strategies.

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