How Housing Professionals Perceive Effects of the Housing Choice Voucher Program on Suburban Communities
David P. Varady
University of Cincinnati
In recent years, increasing numbers of households using housing vouchers have moved to the suburbs, following a general trend for minority and low-income families. Suburban residents often resist this in-movement because of concerns that the clustering of voucher families will lead to increases in crime and decreases in property values. Through a case study of Hamilton County, Ohio, employing both spatial analysis (overall trends for the county and distributional trends within two inner suburbs) and unstructured informant interviews with civic leaders, landlords, public officials, and fair housing advocates, this article seeks to improve the existing understanding of the level of support or resistance to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) by these stakeholders. Although informants endorsed HCVP as a mechanism for accessing affordable housing, they expressed concern about some forms of negative neighborhood spillovers (for example, poorly maintained property exteriors, cultural conflicts, and declining school test scores). In line with recent academic writings, informants recognized that voucher in-migration often is more a symptom rather than a cause of decline. This article addresses possible ways to increase the effectiveness of HCVP in the suburbs.
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