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Why Don't More Housing Voucher Recipients Live in Better Neighborhoods?

February 16, 2018

housingU.S. Housing price rises, particularly in urban areas, are increasingly a financial burden on many households. In 2015, 37 percent of US households rented their home.

That same year, the typical renter household had an annual income of $37,900, and more than 26 percent of renters paid more than 50 percent of their income in rent. Roughly 10 percent of these renters receive rental housing subsidies from the government.

Rental housing subsidies can greatly improve the financial wellbeing of low-income households. Housing subsidies also affect where you live. Where people are able to live is important to study because the quality of your neighborhood affects your physical health, mental health, happiness, and well-being. Low-income households are especially vulnerable to stress and depression.

In our research – which examined the city of Pittsburgh – we find that how the government supports low-income households matters. By providing housing vouchers which have caps that can vary by neighborhood rather than by city or town, policy makers can be far more effective at moving those who receive them to better neighborhoods, and at a much lower cost than some alternatives.

Read the entire blog on the London School of Economics web site.