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Cityscape: Volume 14 Number 1 | Chapter 2


American Housing Survey

Volume 14 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The Role of Public Housing and Vouchers in Achieving Residential Satisfaction

Lauren M. Ross , Anne B. Shlay , Temple University

Mario G. Picon , University of Maryland

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Using data from the 2009 American Housing Survey, this research examines neighborhood and housing satisfaction among assisted and unassisted renters. Studying the effect of housing assistance on neighborhood satisfaction allows for an assessment of the role that housing vouchers play in promoting household mobility to higher quality housing and neighborhoods compared with public housing developments or unsubsidized housing units. A major goal of this study is to shed light on the effectiveness of a predominant form of U.S. government-sponsored housing assistance at providing expanded housing choices for low-income families. Our findings show that housing voucher holders and public housing residents achieve higher levels of housing satisfaction and choose more desirable dwellings than do unassisted low-income renters. Housing assistance, however, does not enable recipients to locate to better neighborhoods.

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