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A Critical Look at the Section 8 Program, a Webinar

In September, Shelterforce’s Shelby R. King was invited to participate in a virtual “Housing Hangout.” Panelists discussed the history of the Section 8 program, its strong points and failings, and ideas for large-scale reforms.

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The Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8) keeps millions of low-income families housed each year but is so underfunded that just 1 in 5 renters who qualify receive a voucher. Those who get one often struggle to find a landlord who will accept it.

The Section 8 program was conceived as a way to allow low-income families access to affordable housing in their neighborhood of choice by paying the difference between 30 percent of renters’ incomes and market rent. But the effects of landlord discrimination, program disinvestment, and unfettered rent increases created a gap between the large numbers of renters who need vouchers and the few who receive them.

[RELATED ARTICLE: Universal Housing Vouchers: A Promise or a Pipe Dream?]

In September, Shelterforce’s Shelby R. King was invited to participate in a virtual “Housing Hangout.” Panelists discussed the history of the Section 8 program, its strong points and failings, and ideas for large-scale reforms.

Other panelists included H. Jacob Carlson, assistant professor of sociology at Kean University; Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard professor of urban policy and planning at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and faculty director at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy; and Will Fischer, senior director for housing policy and research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Housing Hangouts” are a recurring event hosted and moderated by Bruce Rich, director of the Center for Housing and Community Studies at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

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