Panel: Housing Vouchers: Neighborhood Access and Location Decisions
(Housing and Community Development)

Thursday, November 6, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Tesuque (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Vincent Reina, University of Southern California
Panel Chairs:  Raphael Bostic, University of Southern California
Discussants:  Keri-Nicole Dillman, Independent Consultant and Mark Shroder, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Are They Protected? a National Analysis of What Happens to Subsidized Tenants When an Owner Opts out
Vincent Reina, University of Southern California and Benjamin J. Winter, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Move Towards Better Schools?
Ingrid Gould Ellen1, Keren Horn2 and Amy Ellen Schwartz1, (1)New York University, (2)University of Massachusetts, Boston

The Housing Choice Voucher Program and Movement to Jobs
Michael Lens, University of California, Los Angeles and Kirk McClure, University of Kansas

The Housing Choice Voucher program is the largest housing subsidy program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As of 2012, over two million low-income households across the United States used vouchers to rent a unit from a private owner. Despite the scale and age of this program, there are still many questions about whether and how the program affects a household’s choice set and location decision. The papers in this panel provide important insight into who can successfully use a voucher to rent a unit, what neighborhood amenities voucher recipients gain access to, and whether these results vary based on household characteristics. Theoretically, all low-income households who receive a voucher should be able to use it to rent any qualified unit within the HUD-determined fair market rent for the area. However, studies find that voucher recipients encounter landlords who will not rent to them. There is also evidence that successful use of a voucher varies with tenant characteristics and local rent levels. These findings further highlight our limited understanding of the characteristics of, and amenities offered by, the neighborhoods where voucher households live. Specifically, do voucher households access lower poverty neighborhoods than unsubsidized low-income renters? Are voucher households with school-aged children more likely to use their vouchers to move towards better schools than voucher households without? And do voucher households live in neighborhoods that provide increased access to jobs? Finally, how do these dynamics vary based on household characteristics such as race, age, and number of dependents. The papers in this panel identify who can successfully rent a unit with a voucher and also explore what kinds of neighborhoods voucher recipients access. Ultimately, the findings in these papers improve our understanding of low-income households’ preferences and location decisions, and whether the housing choice voucher truly expands a low-income household’s choice set.
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