First used in the 1970s, housing vouchers — beginning as the Section 8 program and now as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program — have become HUD’s primary means for providing housing assistance to low-income renters. The HCV program subsidizes rental payments for privately owned units, making the landlords who own these homes critical to the program’s success. Despite their important role in supplying affordable housing, landlords have not been the subject of much research until recently. Current HUD-sponsored research is beginning to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge about how and why landlords choose to accept vouchers. This knowledge should help HUD, public housing agencies (PHAs), and local government entities improve the efforts they are already implementing to increase landlord participation. This issue of Evidence Matters focuses on the research regarding landlord acceptance of vouchers, the efforts to increase participation, and the implications of landlord participation for the housing choices of voucher households.
The lead article, “Landlords: Critical Participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program,” provides a basic overview of the HCV program and the role that landlords play in it; examines the implications of voucher acceptance for assisted households; surveys existing research on landlord participation; and provides examples of the types of program and initiatives that HUD, PHAs, and local governments are pursuing to increase voucher acceptance. The Research Spotlight, “HUD-Sponsored Research Sheds New Light on HCV Landlords,” by Meena Bavan and Paul Joice, discusses the findings of two recent HUD-sponsored studies, “A Pilot Study of Landlord Acceptance of Housing Choice Vouchers,” and “Urban Landlords and the Housing Choice Voucher Program: A Research Report.” Finally, the In Practice article, “PHAs Encourage Landlord Participation With Incentives,” discusses initiatives in Marin County, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, that offer financial benefits, education, and streamlined administrative processes to encourage landlords to lease to voucher holders.
We hope that this edition of Evidence Matters provides a helpful overview of this critical topic. Our next issue will focus on tax incentives. Please provide feedback on any of our issues at www.huduser.gov/forums.