Panel: Improving the Housing Choice Voucher Program
(Housing, Community Development, and Urban Policy)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Coolidge - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Adrianne Todman, DCHA
Discussants:  Martha Galvez, Urban Institute and Todd Richardson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Navigating Administrative Burdens: Federal Rules and Local Discretion in Administering the Housing Choice Voucher Program
Brian McCabe, Georgetown University and M Kathleen Moore, University of Washington

Neighborhood Opportunity and Housing Choice Vouchers: A Study of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas
Alicia Mazzara, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and Brian Knudsen, Poverty and Race Research Action Council

Incentivizing Moves to Opportunity: Five-Year Effects of Small Area Fair Market Rents on Housing Choice Voucher Holder Location Outcomes
Samuel Dastrup1, Meryl Finkel1 and Ingrid Gould Ellen2, (1)Abt Associates, Inc., (2)New York University

Research shows that the Housing Choice Voucher Program reduces rent burdens, poverty and homelessness. But as successful as the program is, there is significant room for improvement, and the papers in this panel explore strategies for reform. The first paper examines the inherent tradeoffs in the ‘rationed good’ that rental assistance is, and explores alternative strategies for selecting recipients among the many needy households who apply. The second paper considers an additional component of who ultimately benefits from vouchers: the ability of voucher recipients to successfully use vouchers to rent homes. This paper examines whether Source of Income Discrimination laws improve a recipient’s success at ‘leasing up’ as well as whether such laws appear to expand housing and neighborhood choices for voucher recipients. The final two papers further explore locational outcomes, in particular the clustering of voucher recipients in distressed neighborhoods, one of the most common criticisms of the voucher program and the subject of much recent attention by policy makers and practitioners. One draws on administrative data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide a rich description of the neighborhoods where voucher holders reside in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and identify possible drivers of differences in voucher concentration across them. The other paper presents new findings from HUD’s Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration program, which pegged voucher subsidy levels to the rent in the ZIP Code rather than the metropolitan area in hopes of expanding housing choices for voucher recipients.