August 22, 2011

Housing Choice Vouchers: Empowering Families to Prosper

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HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program – also known as the Section 8 program – is a critical part of the nation’s safety net for some of our most vulnerable Americans. This program provides over 2 million very low-income households, often including an elderly or disabled family member, with subsidies to find safe, decent, affordable housing on the private market. But more than that, the voucher program empowers families to move toward opportunity and closer to work, school, and the many other basic resources they need to prosper.

Yet an opinion piece by James Bovard in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal would have readers believe that Section 8 vouchers are an insidious tool that ships crime out of “bad” neighborhoods to infect ”good” ones.

He simply couldn’t be more wrong.

In February 2011, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research released a study conducted at New York University examining the relationship between Housing Choice Vouchers and crime in 10 major cities. The study concluded that – in direct contrast to Bovard’s argument – families with Housing Choice Vouchers do not bring crime when they move to a new community. In truth, if a voucher recipient commits a crime they actually lose their federal subsidy.

The Section 8 Voucher program is aimed at helping reverse the negative effects of neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and segregations on families by providing families with access to neighborhoods of opportunities for education, employment, and health. Housing Choice Vouchers are not the problem; indeed, they are part of a broader solution aimed at helping families move toward more opportunity and prosperity.

HUD and the Obama Administration believe that every American deserves to live in a safe neighborhood, free from fear of crime.  And we stand by our partners at the local level who are on the front lines of creating and maintaining safe communities – state and local governments, property owners, neighbors, and public housing authorities.   But unsubstantiated accusations like those in Bovard’s opinion piece undermine efforts at the state, local, and federal level to identify and root out the true causes of crime in our neighborhoods – and ignore the data that time and again disprove such accusations.

More than 10 million people in the United States live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and face all of the interconnected challenges associated with poverty – housing decay, crime, disinvestment, health disparities, and lack of educational, transportation and economic opportunities.  The solution to those challenges is not to eliminate the very supports that give low-income families the security they need to improve their prospects.

Not only is Bovard’s indictment of the Housing Choice Voucher program inaccurate, his recommendation would dismantle a much-needed support system for poor and needy families teetering on the brink during this difficult economy.

8 Responses to Housing Choice Vouchers: Empowering Families to Prosper

  1. I do agree that everyone should have decent and affordable housing, however the program is not monitored and there is too much fraud. Case in point, my neighbour makes very good money, lives in very nice two family husband not on lease but work’s for the city making a decent dollar. No one question’s this,clearly they can afford to pay market rent. Even if you report such fraud they have no agency to investigate,so I feel this program is just apolitical tool used to help our landlords in high places!

    • Wow, your friend must be my friend because the situation is exactly the same, and they have been reported. Absolutely, nothing was and is being done. Other parents who really need it go without, or wait for long that their children are grown by the time they get to the top of the waiting list.

  2. HUD has a lot of nerve to imply that they work with local officials to ensure safe neighborhoods when they do nothing to stop the tyranny of one municipal housing authority director whose threats of eviction bring fear to all 428 units of public housing she manages! I worked for this authority and made legitimate fair housing complaints against and I was illegally fired and retaliated against! HUD did nothing to protect my rights as a whistleblower, my employment loss thrust my 3 kids and I in a financial crisis that has caused my health to collapse and my home of almost 16 years to be threatened with foreclosure. HUD does NOTHING in my community to ensure safe, decent, affordable housing and I have to sue them in court for my basic constitutional rights! Secretary Donovan, President Obama, I demand a response to my repeated complaints and request for an administrative hearing regarding HUD Fair Housing failure to protect my fair housing rights against illegal retaliation!

  3. The name is CHOICE – so why can’t sec 8 buy ? Fire those at the housing authorities who refuse to let CHOICE hOLDERS BUY !


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  7. I have this voucher, I am a disabled worker and now senior also. This is the best housing program around. I do not believe their is any fraud. The program is set up to strict criteria and anyone with a felony record is not allowed on this program. One has to be very upstanding a very poor. The FMHA program was outstanding also and I wish it still was around for young folks.

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