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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 3 | Article 15


Rental Assistance and Crime

Volume 15, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Which Metropolitan Areas Work Best for Poverty Deconcentration With Housing Choice Vouchers?

Kirk McClure
University of Kansas

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) offers choice to poor renter households, but only a fraction of the households in the program use that choice to locate in low-poverty neighborhoods. Analysis of metropolitan areas across the United States finds that the typical metropolitan area locates 19 percent of its HCVP households in census tracts where less than 10 percent of the population is impoverished. This rate is less than the share of units with rents low enough for the program found in these low-poverty tracts. Race and ethnicity matter. Non-Hispanic White HCVP households are able to enter low-poverty neighborhoods at a rate greater than the availability of affordable units, whereas minorities are not. The metropolitan areas differ markedly in the percentage of HCVP households who locate in low-poverty tracts. Greater entry into low-poverty tracts is found in soft markets and markets with a high percentage of total tracts that are low-poverty tracts. The level of the Fair Market Rents (FMRs), which govern the HCVP, also proves to influence the level of voucher entry into low-poverty neighborhoods, suggesting that gains could be realized by localized changes to the FMRs.

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