How Well Do Housing Vouchers Work for Black Families Experiencing Homelessness?: Evidence from the Family Options Study

We investigate whether racial disparities exist among homeless families with priority access to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The families we studied moved from emergency shelter into subsidized housing and sometimes left the HCV program, and our results suggest that the HCV program works as well for Black families as it does for White families. The rates at which families used the vouchers to lease a housing unit are similarly high for each group. The rate at which families exit from the HCV program does not differ between White and Black families, but the factors that predict exit do differ by race. For all families, access to a voucher reduces returns to homelessness, doubling up, and moving. These results confirm that in the United States—a country with a history of racial disparities in housing—the HCV program can help alleviate the effects of severe poverty and provide housing opportunities that advantage both White and Black families.

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