Issue Brief: Economic Cost Analysis of Different Forms of Assisted Housing
December 1, 2000
This brief updates a 1995 PD&R study of average public housing and Section 8 voucher program costs. Using actual cost data for 1998, the authors estimate the cost of assisting the same mix of incomes and family sizes found in public housing with voucher subsidies. They conclude that total average ongoing public housing costs per occupied unit are 8 to 19 percent higher than voucher subsidy costs. They found significant variability in cost relationships within and among PHA size groups. On average, public housing operated by large PHAs (public housing authorities) tends to be more expensive than vouchers, while public housing operated by small PHAs tends to be less expensive. The comparisons are based solely on costs and do not address other policy considerations, such as the potential deconcentration benefits of vouchers or the permanency, stability, and ease of providing elderly services offered by public housing developments. The comparison also excludes public housing debt service costs.
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