Why Housing Choice and Mobility Matter

Read complete document: PDF

PrintPrint this page
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Digg Share on Reddit
| Email this pageE-mail
Document date: August 17, 2010
Released online: August 17, 2010


HUD's proposal for transforming federal rental assistance expands subsidy recipients' freedom to choose where to live. This essay summarizes research evidence showing that: 1) project-based housing programs limit families' choices about where to live; 2) families benefit when they move with vouchers; 3) assisted mobility programs further expand families' options; and 4) "opportunity moves" can improve families' life chances. Although many families living in federally subsidized housing projects will choose to stay (especially if new investments improve the quality and safety of these communities), expanding opportunities for families to move strengthens federal housing policy by improving the well-being of assisted households.

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full report in PDF format.

Executive Summary

HUD's proposal for transforming federal rental assistance program expands subsidy recipients' freedom to choose where to live. Today, low-income households living in public housing and in federally assisted projects lose their subsidies if they move. These programs tie rental assistance to particular housing units, and qualifying families must remain in place or forgo the housing assistance.1 Typically, the waiting lists for these projects are long, so households have a very strong incentive to stay once they've gained admission.

The proposed Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010 (PETRA) would allow residents of subsidized projects to move—with a portable housing voucher—after living in the project for at least two years. The vacated housing unit would still be subsidized, opening up an opportunity for another low-income family from the waiting list. And the voucher for the departing household would be drawn from the locality's available pool of "turn over" vouchers.2 So the administration's proposal leaves the total number of subsidized housing units and the number of assisted households unchanged. What's new is that all households receiving assistance would have more choices about where to use their assistance. Allowing all federally subsidized renters the freedom to choose where to live can contribute to better outcomes for families.

(End of excerpt. The full report is available in PDF format.)

Topics/Tags: | Cities and Neighborhoods | Governing | Housing

Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact publicaffairs@urban.org.

If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.

Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

Source: The Urban Institute, © 2012 | http://www.urban.org