The Long Wait for Affordable Housing

53% of Housing Choice Voucher Waiting Lists Closed

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has released a new report titled Housing Spotlight: The Long Wait for a Home about Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) and Public Housing waiting lists.

A National Low Income Housing Coalition survey of Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) indicated:

  • That 53% of housing choice voucher (HCV) waiting lists were closed to new applicants and
  • another 4% were open only to specific populations, such as homeless individuals and families, veterans, persons with a disability, or local residents.

“Closed waiting lists and long waits for housing assistance make clear that we must expand housing resources for our nation’s lowest income renters,” states the report.

Sixty-five percent of closed HCV waiting lists had been closed for at least one year, more than half did not think the list would reopen within the next year, and wait times for HCVs often spanned years. The findings make clear that we must expand housing resources for our nation’s lowest income renters.

The Long Wait for HousingExtremely low income (ELI) households, whose incomes are at or below 30% of the area median income, accounted for 74% of households on the average HCV waiting list and 67% of households on the average Public Housing waiting list.

Legislation introduced in the 114th Congress to expand funding for vouchers, public housing, and other housing programs for ELI households should be reintroduced and passed in the new Congress next year.

The bills include:

  1. The “Pathways out of Poverty Act” (H.R. 2721) and
  2. The “Common Sense Housing Investment Act” (H.R. 1662).

Both propose modest changes to the mortgage interest deduction to provide additional funds for both vouchers and public housing, as well as:

“Vouchers are an important tool for meeting the housing needs of ELI renters, with proven success in ending homelessness and housing insecurity. Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program should be significantly expanded to meet the existing need. better target the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to ELI renters.”

Three hundred and twenty PHAs completed NLIHC’s survey about the status, size, waiting times, and household composition of their waiting lists. The participating PHAs were diverse in size, metropolitan status, and location.

Housing Spotlight: The Long Wait for a Home

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