Study on Section 8 Voucher Success Rates Vol 1. Quantitative Study of Success Rates in Metropolitan Areas

Meryl Finkel and Larry Buron

November 2001

The Section 8 tenant-based voucher program is the largest subsidized housing program in the United States.  Under the voucher program, participants must find and lease qualifying units in the private rental market within the time allowed by the program. The household’s rent is then subsidized by HUD. Not every family or individual that receives a Section 8 tenant-based voucher succeeds in finding a qualifying unit. The primary objectives of this study were to: 1) provide a national estimate of the success rate for Section 8 voucher holders in metropolitan areas and compare success rates by demographic group and type of voucher issued; 2) examine the role the tightness of a local housing market plays in success rates and in the time it takes successful voucher holders to lease a unit, and; 3) examine the role specific PHA policies and procedures play in success rates. Success rates varied widely from PHA to PHA in 2000, from a low of 37 percent to a high of 100 percent. Less than half of the voucher holders succeeded in leasing up at 15 percent of large metropolitan-area PHAs. At the other end of the distribution, a similar share of PHAs (12 percent) had success rates greater than 90 percent.

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