Increasing Access to Affordable Housing by Expanding the Housing Choice Voucher Program
Providing decent and affordable housing for all Americans has been a major national policy area since the enactment of New Deal legislation in the 1930s and the formation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a cabinet-level entity in 1965. In the intervening years, the federal government has established several programs intended either to build and maintain affordable housing or subsidize the cost of housing for families in need. However despite these efforts, the number of renter households that expend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs has risen steadily since the 1960s, as rents have increased while incomes stagnated. For millions of families across the United States, the onerous burden of high housing costs is resulting in many negative outcomes, including financial uncertainty and a lessened ability to pay for other necessities, such as food and medical care. In an effort to ensure that all American families have access to safe, affordable housing, this capstone proposes a vast expansion of HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental subsidies for low-income families. This proposal would dispense with the lottery format of the current program, instead providing housing vouchers for every family who is income-eligible. Moreover, landlords would be required to accept vouchers, thereby easing the housing search for voucher families. Housing vouchers have been shown to be one of the most cost-effective forms of housing assistance.