Lowest-Income HCV Participants Faced the Highest Housing Cost Burdens in the Past 15 Years

Lowest-Income HCV Participants Faced the Highest Housing Cost Burdens in the Past 15 Years
Casey Dawkins, Jae Sik Jeon
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
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The rent rules in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program strive to prevent low-income households from spending more than 40 percent of their income on rent, but research shows that many participants spend more than this. This report explores trends in housing cost burdens for HCV participants between 2003 and 2015. The authors examined administrative data from HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Information Center, assembled from tenant-level data completed by local public housing authorities. They assembled two databases for analyses: (1) a set of cross-sectional household-level data from 2003 to 2015 that allowed them to look at trends in housing cost burden over time by household, housing unit type, and geographic characteristics, and (2) longitudinal files of households that allowed them to observe households over time, including rental periods and exits from the HCV program. The study defined housing cost burden as the ratio of a family’s total contribution to housing payments to a household’s total annual adjusted gross income. The report suggests that the housing cost burden that HCV participants face is likely a result of units being rented above local payment standards and incomes that cannot keep up with increasing rents. This is significant at a time when the nation is experiencing a severe affordable housing shortage.

Key findings

  • Housing cost burdens for HCV participants have risen since 2003, with costs being highest for participants with the lowest incomes.
  • Households headed by women, nonelderly people, Hispanic people, and people without a disability were more likely to experience severe housing cost burdens than their counterparts.
  • Households living in larger single-family houses experienced higher housing cost burdens than households in other types of housing.
  • Housing cost burdens were higher in the South than in other regions.