Research Report How Much Could Full Funding and Use of Housing Choice Vouchers Reduce Poverty?
Laura Wheaton, Ilham Dehry, Linda Giannarelli, Sarah Knowles
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Housing assistance programs funded through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are a key component of the US social safety net. However, these programs are not funded at levels that would serve all eligible households, and only one-quarter of eligible households receive assistance. Housing choice vouchers are the most common type of assistance provided by HUD and account for about half of the households served. Vouchers subsidize the rent of units obtained through the private market. In this paper, we use the Analysis of Transfers, Taxes, and Income Security (ATTIS) microsimulation model to hypothetically create a situation in which every eligible household receives a housing choice voucher and finds a rental unit that will accept it. We examine the results in terms of aggregate benefit dollars and reductions in poverty as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), both nationally and at the state level. We also look at the results by age group and by race and ethnicity.

We estimate that under the hypothetical scenario of full funding and full use of housing vouchers, aggregate annual housing subsidies would increase by $118 billion. Because of the increased benefits, the SPM poverty rate would decline by 13 percent overall and by 23 percent for children. An estimated 6.4 million people—including 2.5 million children—would receive enough additional support to have their families’ resources rise above the SPM poverty level. The extent of the change would vary, but across all states there would be substantial increases in benefits and reductions in poverty. Poverty would also decline for all racial and ethnic groups, with the biggest relative decline for Hispanic people.

Research Areas Housing Social safety net State and local finance Economic mobility and inequality Race and equity
Tags Asian American and Pacific Islander communities Black/African American communities Economic well-being Families with low incomes Family and household data Federal budget and economy Federal housing programs and policies From Safety Net to Solid Ground Housing affordability Housing and the economy Housing subsidies Housing vouchers and mobility Inequality and mobility Latinx communities Poverty Racial and ethnic disparities State programs, budgets Welfare and safety net programs
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center
Research Methods Microsimulation modeling ATTIS Microsimulation Model
States All states
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