Facts About Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher Participants

Researcher & Writer
January 18, 2016

It’s easy to make assumptions about government programs and the people that serve. But what we often forget is that these programs were created out of need and that their continued existence proves that that need still exists. 

The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program, which subsidizes rent for low-income families, is no different. When you think about some who’d be part of this program, what words come to mind? Depending on your race, gender and background, many things may be dancing in your head. Before drawing conclusions, let’s look at some other characteristics of the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program and the people it serves.

  • The average annual incomes for families receiving vouchers is $13,478
  • 41% of families have one member, 21% have two, 17% have three, and 20% have four to six
  • 49% of those family’s head of household identify as white, 46% as black/African-American and 17% as Hispanic/Latino (more than one answer is allowed)
  • 58% of families have been a part of the program for at least 5 years

Research shows the benefits of the program outweigh the costs. 

According to a 2010 study, the yearly net benefit amount for voucher recipients ranges from approximately $650 to $2,800 per year. This speaks to the program’s efficiency and ability to help those who participate. Benefits come in personal and social, monetary and intrinsic benefits including increased achievement in children and reduced crime and substance abuse in communities.

Voucher recipients are great tenants. 

The stereotype that low-income individuals do not care about where the live is simply not true. Since voucher assistance is jeopardized if participants violate any program guidelines, Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers program participants have even more incentive than other tenants to uphold their lease agreement. Many voucher tenants remain in their homes for years without a complaint from their landlord.

The program improves health.

Giving families the freedom to move to better, safer neighborhoods has a positive effect on the physical and mental health of the family. This type of move have been show to, among other things, reduce asthma attacks, lessen the occurrence of accidents and minimize behavior problems in children**.

As you can see, the facts and figures surrounding the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program don’t add up to the negative reputation often attributed to the program. Voucher assistance has an important social impact on our society and is often the tool that gives families access to meaningful employment, proper education and healthy living.

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