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Cityscape: Volume 20 Number 1 | Selected Outcomes of Housing Assistance


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Selected Outcomes of Housing Assistance

Volume 20, Number 1

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Housing Cost Burden in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: The Impact of HUD Program Rules

Casey Dawkins
Jae Sik Jeon
University of Maryland

U.S. renters’ housing cost burdens have reached historic highs, and these burdens fall most heavily on renters earning the lowest incomes. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the nation’s largest tenant-based rental assistance program, is designed to alleviate high housing cost burdens for qualifying low-income households. In theory, voucher recipients should not spend more than 40 percent of their income on rent while participating in the program, yet research finds that many HCV program participants still experience housing cost burdens in excess of this threshold.

This article examines recent trends and determinants of housing cost burdens for voucher recipients. We rely on cross-sectional and longitudinal data constructed from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administrative files to characterize the prevalence of housing cost burden over the 2003-to-2015 period, explore longitudinal trajectories of voucher recipients who initially leased a unit in 2003, and examine the marginal impact of various factors on the odds of an HCV household experiencing a housing cost burden in 2015. The findings suggest that certain provisions of the HCV program, particularly local payment standards and the restriction on housing cost burden monitoring to those recently admitted or recently moved, play an important role in shaping housing cost burdens.

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