Barriers to Moving to Low-Poverty Areas for Voucher Holders

Barriers to Moving to Low-Poverty Areas for Voucher Holders
J. Rosie Tighe, Megan E. Hatch, Joseph Mead
Journal of Planning Literature
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Laws that prevent source-of-income (SOI) discrimination could eliminate some of the barriers Housing Choice Voucher recipients experience in their search for housing in low-poverty areas, according to J. Rosie Tighe and her colleagues. Reviewing the literature on SOI discrimination for housing voucher recipients, the authors find that voucher holders want to move to high-opportunity neighborhoods but are prevented from doing so because of market constraints, use of information, and discrimination. This scan of research reveals that all three challenges are interrelated, and they could be partially mitigated by SOI antidiscrimination laws. But regulation in this area is controversial, and more research is needed about SOI discrimination to evaluate its validity.

Key findings:

  • Market constraints and program-level barriers are imposed on voucher holders through an inadequate supply of affordable private-market units and the voucher program’s timeline for finding a home.
  • Imperfect information for both renters and tenants is a barrier for using vouchers to move to high-opportunity areas.
  • Stereotypes and laws allowing landlords to decline vouchers contribute to the discrimination voucher holders experience.
  • Future research needs to explore four primary areas: the effects of SOI discrimination on voucher holders’ housing searches, the relationship between SOI discrimination and racial discrimination, levels of enforcement of SOI antidiscrimination laws, and the link between localized rent determination and SOI discrimination.