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FY 2015 Appropriations: Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
Federal Policy Brief | September 24, 2013
There is clear evidence that housing subsidies prevent and end homelessness for even the most vulnerable families. Families who exit shelter with a housing subsidy are 21 times more likely to remain stably housed than comparable families exiting shelter without a subsidy. An evaluation of one variant of the Housing Choice Voucher program, the Family Unification Program (FUP), found that 88 percent of child welfare-involved, homeless families – including those with a history of mental illness, substance use problems, health problems, and incarceration – remained stably housed 12 months after receiving a FUP voucher. Despite this evidence, the lack of funding for this program means that only about one in four households that are eligible for vouchers receive any form of federal housing assistance. To exacerbate this, at least 40,000 housing vouchers that were cut due to sequestration have not yet been replaced.
The HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program combines a Housing Choice Voucher from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Evaluation of this program has found that recipients increase days housed, employment, income, and connections with family and friends, while decreasing alcohol use and days spent homeless or in institutions.
HUD’s latest data shows that 58,063 veterans are homeless at a given point in time, including many chronically homeless veterans who live on the streets and have a severe physical or mental disability. These veterans typically require permanent supportive housing – housing linked with intensive supports such as those provided by the HUD-VASH program – to help them maintain housing stability. A number of studies have demonstrated that this is a cost-effective approach that helps people who have intensive needs to maintain stable housing, and some evidence shows that, once back in housing, they are more likely to access health and substance abuse treatment services.