More housing vouchers now being used in the suburbs

A new report from the Brookings Institute suggests that more housing vouchers are now being used in the suburbs. Here is a quick summary of their findings:

This study analyzes the changing location of HCV recipients within the nation’s largest metro areas in the 2000s and finds:

  • Nearly half of all HCV recipients lived in suburban areas in 2008. However, HCV recipients remained less suburbanized than the total population, the poor population, and affordable housing units generally.
  • Black HCV recipients suburbanized fastest over the 2000 to 2008 period, though white HCV recipients were still more suburbanized than their black or Latino counterparts by 2008.  Black HCV recipients’ suburbanization rate increased by nearly 5 percent over this period, while that for Latinos increased by about 1 percent.  The suburbanization rate for white HCV recipients declined slightly.
  • Within metro areas, HCV recipients moved further toward higher-income, jobs-rich suburbs between 2000 and 2008.  However, the poor and affordable housing units shifted more rapidly toward similar kinds of suburbs over that period.  By 2008 about half of suburban HCV recipients still lived in low-income suburbs.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, metro areas in the West and those experiencing large increases in suburban poverty exhibited the biggest shifts in HCV recipients to the suburbs.  Western metro areas like Stockton, Boise, and Phoenix experienced increases of 10 percentage points or more in the suburbanization rate of HCV recipients.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise as more poor people now live in suburbs than big cities. But this could help explain how some of the poor are moving to the suburbs. As the US government has moved away from funding high-rise housing projects to providing housing vouchers, more people have decided to use these in the suburbs where there may be more housing and jobs.

These findings could also bring up some interesting issues regarding how suburban communities and residents feel about the use of housing vouchers in nearby housing. I think it is safe to assume that many suburban residents would not necessarily want to live near poorer residents but the voucher program makes this a bit more anonymous. If people knew that their community was a popular site for the use of housing vouchers, what would they do?

I would also suspect that the use of these vouchers in clustered in less wealthy suburbs, not very spread out throughout the metropolitan region.

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