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Massachusetts To Make Changes To Rental Vouchers To Improve Housing

Massachusetts is planning to make some changes in rental vouchers to improve housing and raise awareness about illegal discrimination.

December 7, 2023

Massachusetts is making it easier for nearly 100,000 housing choice voucher holders to find homes by making some changes to the voucher program and targeting housing discrimination.
Housing Choice Vouchers widely known as Section 8 provide a set amount of money towards the voucher holder’s rent. The amount at present is fixed according to the fair market rent in 19 geographic regions of the state with new changes based on the zip code.

Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus said, “This critical move will open rental opportunities in higher-rent neighborhoods, while also bringing costs in lower-rent neighborhoods into better alignment with the actual rental market rental vouchers will be more valuable, more useful and give residents more opportunity and choice.”

The current voucher holders will not see a decrease in the value of their vouchers when the program goes into effect next year. But if they move, then the voucher amount will go up and down based on the new fair market rent calculations.

The Housing Choice Vouchers Program is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the state-run Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program.

Augustus said, “Rental vouchers are not only among the most effective and evidence-based interventions to end family homelessness. Rental vouchers keep people housed. Vouchers ensure that low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities can afford a home in Massachusetts.”

Despite fair housing laws making it illegal to discriminate against tenants holding vouchers, tenants still experience discrimination from landlords and real estate agents when looking out for an apartment.

A study revealed that 86% of voucher holders experienced housing discrimination and were only allowed to take a tour of potential housing units.

The Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, Maureen St. Cyr, provided examples of clients facing difficulties with their housing vouchers. In one case, a client was denied a rental unit because the voucher required it to be lead-free, and the landlord refused to cover the cost of lead abatement.

Another tenant in Worcester faced eviction after a new landlord took over the property and expressed reluctance to accept her voucher, despite her having lived there for over a decade.
The new $100,000 media campaign will post messages on social media to teach voucher holders and landlords that this type of discrimination is illegal.

Explore more about affordable housing solutions and the Section 8 program on our website, Affordable Housing 411, for in-depth information and resources.

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The content provided in this article draws inspiration and includes quotes from various reputable sources, including news articles, government data, and interviews. Affordable Housing 411 strives to ensure accuracy and credibility, but the information presented may be based on some external sources. We encourage readers to refer to the referenced materials for more in-depth insights and verification.

Lavery Trea. “Changes to rental vouchers in Mass. aim to improve housing choice for low-income residents”. MassLive, December 7, 2023,
Changes to rental vouchers in Mass. aim to improve housing choice for low-income residents – masslive.com

Last Updated: September 20, 2021