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Rising Rents: A Serious Concern For The Housing Choice Voucher Holders

The rent increased by 18% nationwide while the value of housing choice vouchers only increased by 7% during the first two years of the pandemic. The program needs improvements to help more low-income families and individuals.

April 18, 2023

Seattle- Housing Choice Vouchers are unable to keep up with the rising rents which in turn is increasing the burden on the households and exposing them to homelessness and economic uncertainty. The research reveals that there were 10 times more qualified voucher recipients compared to the vouchers in the large U.S Metros. The values of vouchers increased at a rate that was less than half the speed of typical rent growth during the pandemic.

Another study concluded that not a single major metropolitan area had a sufficient number of vouchers to satisfy the demand. The eligible voucher recipients were 10 times larger than the number of vouchers. Besides this, there were four times more severely burdened households than the voucher recipients.

The typical U.S. rent grew by 18% between February 2020 and February 2022 but the voucher values only grew by 7%. Counties with the most significant discrepancy between rent growth and voucher values were dispersed throughout the country. Florida is one such state that experienced the fastest rent increases in the country. Apart from this, the rent growth outpaced voucher values by 50 percentage points in 2 years in Miami Dade County.

How do vouchers work?

The Housing Choice Vouchers program is a rental assistance program put forth by HUD. This program is also sometimes referred to as Section 8. The program is liable to pay a certain portion of the rent to the landlord on behalf of the tenant and the tenant has to pay the rest.

Whether you are eligible for a housing choice voucher depends on your income and family size. Your family income should be below 50% of the median income of the county. A voucher holder may be asked to pay about 30% of the income as rent and the rest is to be paid by HUD. The study conducted reveals that it takes four full-time minimum-wage workers to afford a two-bedroom rental these days. With each passing day, the voucher’s value is eroding which in turn leaves fewer options for voucher holders. The rent increase will expose families to homelessness, eviction, and health crises.

What can be done

HUD is committed to improving the program and helping low-income families. Increasing landlord participation is the best way forward to keep the people housed. Lawmakers can come up with sources of income protections to ensure housing providers participate in the program. Besides this, the policymakers should also find ways to streamline and modernize programs to make landlords more confident making the program a huge success.

The long-term solution of this program is creating more homes and making housing affordable. Loosening zoning laws can help to achieve this outcome.

Last Updated: September 20, 2021