The Dream Revisited
Discussion 20: Making Vouchers More Mobile

Discussion 20: Making Vouchers More Mobile

July 2016

The twentieth discussion examines the benefits of defining fair market rent by zip code, to make it easier for families to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods, and weighs potential unintended costs.


  • Expanding Neighborhood Choices for Voucher Tenants Using Small Area Fair Market Rents

    by Rob Collinson

    Since the Housing Act of 1949 set out the goal of “a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family,” federal low-income housing policy has targeted the dual aims of improving both the physical housing unit quality and the neighborhood environment for low-income families. The Housing Choice Voucher program is expressly designed to give low-income families the choice of a better neighborhood environment. 


  • Housing Choice Shouldn’t Be At The Expense of Other Low-Income Renters

    by Rachel Fee

    HUD wants to expand their successful pilot for Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR) to New York City. With promising outcomes in a Dallas demonstration program, HUD proposes new rules for New York City and other regions with high levels of voucher concentration to both encourage and enable voucher holders to move to areas of higher opportunity and lower poverty. This proposal is full of promise and may work well in some localities, but in a high-cost, extremely low-vacancy city like New York, it could have disastrous consequences.

  • Small Area FMRs: A Jump-Start to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

    by Demetria McCain

    While Collinson highlights important research showing that Dallas movers accessed lower poverty areas with better schools and less crime when SAFMRs came to town, his post doesn’t sufficiently emphasize the power of zip-code based subsidies to combat racial segregation and affirmatively further fair housing. 

  • Supporting, Protecting Low Income Residents Is Essential to Ensuring Successful SAFMR Implementation

    by Diane Yentel

    Almost 14 million people live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and the number is growing, nearly doubling since the year 2000. The impacts of this trend are felt most within communities of color. Recent research affirms the profound impact of place on the trajectory of our lives, and so it is distressing that so many recipients of HUD subsidized assistance live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

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