What Do We Know About Housing Choice Voucher Program Location Outcomes?: A Review of Recent Literature

Martha M. Galvez, What Works Collaborative, August 2010, available here

“Tenant-based housing assistance was born in part from the idea that neighborhood conditions affect individual well-being and shape life chances. A goal of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is to avoid concentrations of poverty typical of some public housing projects, and to permit assisted households to gain access to a wider range of higher-quality neighborhoods than they would have reached without the voucher, or if they have been offered a place-based housing unit. A persistent concern for policymakers is whether voucher holders do in fact live in “good” or lower-poverty areas than they would have lived in without a voucher. This paper reviews the evidence on neighborhood location outcomes for voucher holders in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), where over three-quarters of all voucher holders live (Devine et al. 2003; Galvez forthcoming[a]). Included is a discussion of how outcomes are defined and how voucher holders’ location outcomes compare to threshold poverty-rate expectations, other poor households, and to assisted housing units. Also included is a review of the qualitative literature on location outcomes, which speaks to how voucher holders search for housing and make location decisions.”

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