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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Housing vouchers

Housing Choice Voucher Program

  • Getting a Section 8 voucher is hard. Finding a landlord willing to accept it is harder., By Teresa Wiltz, August 31, 2018, Stateline: “As a prospective tenant, B.R. Williams learned early on she needed a script to woo potential landlords: Mention her stellar rental history. Emphasize that Section 8 housing vouchers are ‘pro-landlord,’ with most of the rent direct deposited each month. Always utter the magic words, ‘This is a no-fail system.’ Sometimes the pitch worked. But even then, Williams often would show up to look at an apartment, only to be told that it was no longer available…”
  • ‘Section 8 need not apply’: states and cities outlaw housing discrimination, By Mattie Quinn, August 29, 2018, Governing: “Washington state is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law to protect low-income renters from housing discrimination. House Bill 2578, which will go into effect at the end of September, makes it illegal for landlords to reject applicants based on their use of public assistance, including Section 8, Social Security or veterans benefits…”
  • Affordable housing program in Oakland helps keep Section 8 renters in place, By Kimberly Veklerov, August 15, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “As luxury high-rise condos replace Oakland’s once-affordable housing stock, city officials said Wednesday a first-of-its-kind program that gives financial incentives to landlords renting to low-income families is off to a strong start. In recent years, hundreds of housing units available for impoverished families have disappeared from the market. To recover some of the loss, Oakland officials are touting the new program that gives monetary benefits to property owners to remain or become Section 8 landlords…”
  • In Philly, two-thirds of the landlords won’t take affordable housing vouchers — even when the renter can afford the place, By Julia Terruso, August 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “When Paul Woods got a housing voucher three years ago, he thought that he’d been given a fresh start after a series of setbacks. Woods, who served in the Marines and is now on disability, had been living with family and friends, bouncing from place to place. But his voucher came with an expiration date: 60 days to find an apartment. Many landlords rejected Woods, 61, because of his voucher, he said. He found some who accepted vouchers but would show him only certain units — typically, less attractive ones. In Philadelphia, where rental rates are rising and affordable housing options are shrinking, his options were scarce…”

Low-Income Housing

  • As affordable housing crisis grows, HUD sits on the sidelines, By Glenn Thrush, July 27, 2018, New York Times: “The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need. The Trump administration’s main policy response, unveiled this spring by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development: a plan to triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, with the goal of moving longtime tenants out of the system to make way for new ones…”
  • Afraid of “political repercussions,” HUD delayed action on crumbling public housing in Cairo, By Molly Parker, July 26, 2018, The Southern Illinoisan: “As public housing deteriorated in Illinois’ southernmost city, bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development delayed stepping in because they wanted to avoid ‘political repercussions’ and negative attention, according to a scathing audit released Thursday…”
  • Under city program, renters-turned-homeowners could become renters again, By Nikita Stewart, July 29, 2018, New York Times: “Robert Mattox was not in the position to own a home. He was raising seven children in 1980 when New York City turned his Harlem building into a cooperative. He was asked if he wanted to buy his three-bedroom apartment. The city began turning deteriorating buildings over to tenants to save their homes and to help the city in the 1970s. The effort was envisioned as a way to improve a neglected housing stock but also give New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes a financial stake in their homes…”

Section 8 Housing Discrimination

  • Section 8 discrimination is illegal in Dane County, but some landlords, renters don’t know that, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, April 19, 2018, Cap Times: “When Connie Shaw has to find a new apartment, her anxiety flares up. It took her four months to find her current Madison apartment. During the search, Shaw slept in her car and showered at a friend’s place. She reached out to landlords constantly, but received at least a dozen rejections and countless phone calls went unreturned…”
  • A “last frontier” of fair housing?, By Amy Scott, April 11, 2018, Marketplace: “Twelve years ago, Jill Williams had a stroke that left her unable to work. She ended up homeless, living between shelters and her car. Then in 2016, she received a Section 8 housing voucher for veterans. She’d served in the Coast Guard…”

Housing Discrimination – Rhode Island

R.I. bill seeks to end Section 8 stigma, By Christine Dunn, March 19, 2018, Providence Journal: “The federal Housing Choice Voucher program was created during the Reagan administration to give low-income tenants a way to find housing of their own choosing in the private market, instead of being limited to Section 8-financed projects. But in Rhode Island, that intended choice and mobility are often pre-empted by landlords who say: ‘No Section 8…’”

Housing Choice Voucher Program – Pittsburgh, PA

  • New system aims to give Section 8 voucher holders access to more neighborhoods, By Kate Giammarise, March 12, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A new payment system, set to start April 1, could allow Section 8 voucher holders to live in more parts of Pittsburgh — neighborhoods they might currently find themselves priced out of, ones with access to good schools, transportation and jobs…”
  • Pittsburgh Housing Authority will ask HUD to delay Section 8 changes, By Kate Giammarise, March 14, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Housing officials in Pittsburgh will ask the federal government to allow them to not implement a new payment system — that had been set to take effect April 1 — that aims to give greater neighborhood choice to Section 8 voucher holders. Following pushback at two public hearings Tuesday, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to give officials more time to develop a methodology to give voucher holders more choices about where to live…”

Housing Discrimination – Washington

Lawmakers move to protect Section 8 recipients, homeless veterans, others on aid, By Ahmed Namatalla (AP), March 6, 2018, Kitsap Sun: “Mindy Woods fought her way out of homelessness. It’s a success story state lawmakers and advocacy groups are trying to replicate by targeting perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the homeless: rejection. Woods, 52, slept on friends’ couches for eight months and had eight property owners turn her down before she found a landlord willing to accept her Section 8 voucher, a federal subsidy that helps low-income people pay their rent…”

Housing Subsidies

Revised federal housing subsidies offer mobility to low-income residents, By Carey L.  Biron, February 13, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Tiara Moore, a public school bus aide, has been living with her uncle and young daughter in a high-crime, high-poverty part of Chicago – and she’s wanted to move. Her top choice is DuPage County, just outside Chicago and closer to where her mother lives, but moving has not been easy because the size of the housing assistance she receives from the federal government has limited her choices…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Arizona

Locked out: Section 8 housing vouchers fail to open doors for low-income renters, By Alden Woods, December 14, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Marcella Landson set aside her Section 8 voucher and stared at the shaded map of Tempe, searching for the right neighborhood. They all seemed the same. She had come to find a home, but couldn’t even figure out where to look.  At the head of a wide conference table in the city library, Tempe Housing Services supervisor Theresa James held up her own copy of the map. About half of the city was shaded in, marking what was described as prosperity and potential. The rest was left empty, filled only by high poverty and unemployment rates. In those areas, schools performed worse. Houses and apartments sagged with age. Rents were low, but opportunities were few…”

Section 8 Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Up to 600,000 expected to apply when L.A. reopens Section 8 housing list this month after 13 years, By Doug Smith, October 1, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Lately, home for Tamara Meeks has been the screened-in back porch of a tiny house behind an apartment building near 66th Street and Compton Avenue. At night she slips into the kitchen to sleep on a mover’s blanket while her two dogs sleep under a car seat on the porch. Her arrangement, with the parents of a friend’s friend, is the latest of a string of temporary arrangements Meeks has made during the 13 years she’s been waiting for a Section 8 housing voucher…”

Affordable Housing

  • Affordable housing program costs more, shelters fewer, By Laura Sullivan, May 9, 2017, National Public Radio: “On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city. After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water…”
  • Section 8 vouchers help the poor — but only if housing is available, By Laura Sullivan, May 10, 2017, National Public Radio: “Farryn Giles and her 6-year-old son Isaiah have been living in a crumbling apartment building with her ex-husband, who’s letting her stay for a couple months. Pigeons have infested the walls of the courtyard. Before she lived here, she was sleeping on and off in her car. But Giles, 26, says she recently felt like she hit the jackpot. She was awarded a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, which will pay the difference between her rent and what she can afford…”

Section 8 Housing – Seattle, WA

Section 8 tenants flee Seattle’s high rents, compete for housing in smaller cities, By Vernal Coleman, November 18, 2016, Seattle Times: “On a recent Saturday morning, Elmika James settled into a couch inside the subsidized, three-bedroom apartment she fears she could soon lose and began searching for a new home.  She scoured housing websites on her phone, looking over listings friendly to participants in the federal Housing Choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8.  Many of the listings were old, the apartments advertised already rented. Others were scams. Some property managers have told her flatly they did not accept the vouchers at all.  James, a 43-year-old UPS package handler and mother of five, said rejection has become part of her daily routine. And she’s not alone…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Pittsburgh, PA

For those with Section 8 vouchers, finding suitable housing difficult, By Kate Giammarise, June 20, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It can take years to get a Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh. But it takes just four months to lose it. Pittsburgh’s voucher waiting list has about 5,000 families on it, but once a family gets one, the clock starts ticking. The recipient must find a qualified residence within 120 days and, because of a shortage of units and willing landlords, that’s often very difficult. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is the largest federal program for assisting low-income people to find affordable housing in the private rental market…”

Section 8 Housing – Minneapolis, MN

Proposal would open more Minneapolis apartments to Section 8 housing vouchers, By Eric Roper, May 11, 2016, Star Tribune: “Landlords can be picky about pets, credit scores and rental history, but Minneapolis officials are looking to bar another common stipulation of apartment listings: ‘No Section 8.’  A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers. A preliminary meeting with landlords about the idea is slated for Thursday, with a tenant-focused public meeting on Friday.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a co-author of the ordinance, said rejecting applicants who are using vouchers makes unfair generalizations about the program and those who rely on it…”

Housing Vouchers and Rapid Rehousing

  • Vouchers help families move far from public housing, By Binyamin Appelbaum, July 7, 2015, New York Times: “Lamesa White and her four children moved in February from the most dangerous public housing project in Dallas to a single-family home in this affluent suburb. On the day she left, one of her daughter’s old schoolmates was shot to death. Ms. White’s escape from the Estell Village housing project — better known as The Pinks because the buildings were once painted that color — was made possible by an experiment in housing policy the federal government began in Dallas in 2011 and is now proposing to expand to most other large metropolitan areas.  Families in Dallas who qualify for housing subsidies are offered more money if they move to more expensive neighborhoods, allowing them to live in safe communities and enroll their children in schools that are otherwise beyond reach. To sharpen the prod, the government has also cut subsidies for those who do not go…”
  • For homeless families, quick exit from shelters is only a temporary fix, By Pam Fessler, July 7, 2015, National Public Radio: “More than 150,000 U.S. families are homeless each year. The number has been going down, in part because of a program known as rapid rehousing, which quickly moves families out of shelters and into homes. But new research by the Obama administration finds that for many families, rapid rehousing is only a temporary fix…”
  • Minneapolis homeless advocates back study on success of housing vouchers, By Erin Golden, July 7, 2015, Star Tribune: “A federal study of homeless families in a dozen cities — including Minneapolis — has concluded that long-term housing vouchers provide a more effective solution to homelessness than temporary or ­transitional housing programs.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development surveyed more than 2,200 families over an 18-month period, tracking some that used Section 8 vouchers, others that were provided with temporary rental assistance or short-term spots in transitional housing facilities and some that took a more patchwork approach, receiving some services but often extending stays in ­homeless shelters…”
  • Section 8 renters stayed in poorer areas after New Orleans razed housing projects, study finds, By Richard A. Webster, July 8, 2015, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “When New Orleans demolished the bulk of its public housing developments after Hurricane Katrina, it replaced the majority of the lost units with Section 8 housing vouchers. The idea was that vouchers would give people who lived in poverty-stricken communities such as Iberville, St. Bernard, B.W. Cooper and Magnolia a choice. Instead of being trapped in public housing developments for generations, they could move their families to areas with less poverty and crime, better schools, access to health care and job opportunities. That was the idea anyway…”

Section 8 Housing – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis passes bills to reduce Section 8 concentration in poor neighborhoods, By Walker Moskop, February 26, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The Section 8 housing voucher program is designed to avoid the challenges of concentrated poverty typically associated with traditional public housing. Tenants receive rent subsidy vouchers from a local housing authority and can redeem them anywhere landlords accept them, so long as properties meet certain standards.  In the end, though, most voucher recipients in St. Louis still end up clustered in lower-income communities.  In an attempt to alleviate that concentration, St. Louis passed two measures last week aimed at making it easier for landlords to participate in the program while also banning the practice of rejecting tenants because they have vouchers…”

Housing Policy and Poor Children

How small changes to federal housing policy could make a big difference for poor kids, By Emily Badger, October 15, 2014, Washington Post: “Children are shaped in profound ways by the neighborhoods where they grow up. Perhaps this sounds like common sense (why else do we fret over where to raise them?). But it’s borne out by research, too. High-poverty neighborhoods can be bad for children’s health, school performance and even cognitive development. Low-poverty ones, meanwhile, often mean they have access to better schools and do better academically as a result. It makes sense, then, that when we subsidize housing for poor families…”