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Preface: Tools and Strategies for Improving Community Relations in the Housing Choice Voucher Program


Report Acceptance Date: September 2001

Posted Date: August 22, 2007

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Have you noticed a change in community attitudes about your Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP)? For many years, the HCVP was known as Section 8 tenant-based assistance (in this publication, the term "HCVP" is used to describe the concept historically described as "Section 8"). For most communities, HCVP subsidies remain an essential and positive response to affordable housing needs. However, some PHAs have noted a general lessening of community support for their goals and activities, while others have experienced active resistance to new initiatives related to HCVP such as portability and special mobility programs.

Why has HCVP become controversial in some localities and not in others? Are such controversies:

… the inevitable consequence of demographic and economic changes in the community?
… a disconnect between program rules and street reality?
… a reflection of the way PHAs operate their programs?
… or some other, as yet unidentified, factor?

Is there anything HCVP administrators can do to prevent a decline in community support for the program or to restore confidence in the program once it has been lost? This guidebook is the end product of a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to look into these and other questions related to community acceptance of HCVP. Eight PHAs that volunteered to share their experiences were studied in some detail. The purpose of the study was to try to understand the factors that lead to community dissatisfaction with HCVP and to assess the effectiveness of strategies employed by PHAs to eliminate or alleviate community concerns. Although a guidebook cannot possibly address the specific circumstances in each of the more than 2,600 PHAs that administer HCVP, we believe it can do three things:

  • Provide information about the experiences of communities and HCVP administrators that have dealt with significant resistance to HCVP;
  • Identify key factors that appear to make an HCVP vulnerable to community or neighborhood controversy; and
  • Share selected ideas and tools that have been found to be effective in preventing or resolving community concerns about the program.


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