The Problem With Housing Choice Vouchers

Even with new funding proposed in the infrastructure package, voucher recipients face severe challenges in finding landlords that will accept them.

October 11, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Multi-Family Housing

ND700 / Shutterstock

Among the proposed cuts to the proposed infrastructure spending package, reports Abby Vesoulis, is the $75 billion allocated for Housing Choice Vouchers. But even if the funding goes through, "the discussion underscores a central problem with the existing system: there’s a critical shortage of affordable housing units where people can actually use their vouchers."

Today, the program provides 2.3 million households with vouchers. "That’s nowhere near enough: only one in four people who qualify for federal housing assistance currently receive support, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), and those who do must wait an average of 2.5 years before receiving a voucher." While the new funding, if approved, would provide 750,000 additional vouchers, "a more systemic, and perhaps more intractable problem remains: once families get vouchers, they often struggle to find landlords who will accept them."

Some landlords "complain about the long lead times it takes between showing a tenant an available unit, going through the mandatory inspection process, making any needed repairs, and obtaining final PHA sign-off." If the vouchers were "a lot more like cash," they say, it would make the process easier for them.

Even so, "affordable housing advocates argue that more federal funding will at least begin to address some of the problems at hand," giving more families an opportunity to start looking for housing.

Monday, October 4, 2021 in Time Magazine

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

A screengrab of the Caharlotte Future virtual open house.

Top Websites for Urban Planning – 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the best of the urban planning Internet.

October 25, 2021 - James Brasuell

An aerial image of the neighborhood of Buckman in Portland, Oregon.

Homeowner Groups Find an Antidote to Zoning Reforms: National Register Historic Districts

Many neighborhoods are moving to create historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places in response to the growing number of states, cities, and neighborhoods loosening single-family residential zones.

October 22, 2021 - Sightline Institute

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.