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.

1 minute read

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.

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