Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Source of Income Protections and Locational Outcomes

The housing choice voucher program, the largest low-income housing subsidy program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides assistance to over 5 million people in approximately 2.3 million households. But, one of the program’s elusive goals is to provide more - and better - locational choices for recipient households. Surveying data between 2007 and 2017, this paper evaluates how source of income laws in 31 jurisdictions impact where voucher holders live. These laws prohibit discrimination based on the source of income a tenant uses to pay rent. The authors find consistent evidence that adopting such laws result in greater neighborhood improvements among existing voucher holders who move. More specifically, voucher holders who move after a law has been enacted live in areas with lower poverty rates and more racially diverse populations.