Local Policy Responses to Housing Voucher Discrimination

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The Housing Choice Voucher program is the nation’s largest housing assistance program and has two main goals: to provide stable and affordable housing to very low–income households and to improve access to neighborhoods that offer healthy living environments. Growing evidence suggests that discrimination by private landlords impedes progress on both goals.

People who receive vouchers or other forms of federal or local housing assistance are not protected from discrimination by federal fair housing or civil rights laws, and in most places, landlords can legally refuse to rent to voucher holders. In response to the absence of federal protections, several states and local city or county governments have attempted to protect voucher holders from discrimination.

This study will assess whether and under what conditions state and local protections reduce landlord discrimination and improve the rate at which voucher holders are successful at finding housing.

This research will fill several knowledge gaps about how to leverage this crucial affordable housing investment to improve health equity. It will also support evidence-based advocacy and policymaking at a time when a growing number of local jurisdictions are adopting voucher protections but local laws are increasingly threatened by state preemption.

Key staff: Martha Galvez, PhD; Solomon Green, JD