Housing Vouchers Are Critical for Ending Family Homelessness


Jill Khadduri, Abt Associates, Inc.

Solutions Brief | January 29, 2008

Files: PDF | 142 KB | 8 pages

Housing vouchers are successful in helping families exit homelessness and can protect poor families from becoming homeless. The idea that adequate amounts of affordable rental housing would prevent and end family homelessness is intuitive. It is also firmly grounded in the research literature on the causes of homelessness and on the efficacy of programs that seek to end homelessness for individual families. This paper summarizes those research findings and draws out their implications for housing policymakers on all levels of government — in the first instance, for the federal government, which carries the responsibility for adequately funding the Housing Choice Voucher Program and for setting the parameters for the use of those housing subsidies.

In examining the research findings on this topic, the paper reaches several conclusions:

  • For entire communities, shortages of affordable housing lead to increases in homelessness.
  • Housing vouchers can overcome the shortages of affordable housing that lead to homelessness.
  • For individual families, proximate causes of homelessness are insufficient income to pay rent and lack of experience as a leaseholder.
  • The same families at risk of becoming homeless can avoid homelessness by using housing vouchers.
  • For families that become homeless, vouchers are an effective way of leaving homelessnss.

The brief concludes that the policy implications of this research is clear:

  • Fund more vouchers.
  • At the same time, experiment with shallow or time-limited subsidies.

Based on all of this information, the paper concludes that housing vouchers are critical for ending family homelessness.