Improving Housing Choice Voucher Holders’ Access to High Opportunity Neighborhoods

Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy   (New York)

March 2012

On Monday, the Furman Center’s Institute for Affordable Housing Policy convened experts from government, academia, community-based organizations, and the private sector to address difficult questions: What kind of neighborhood choices are voucher holders making in New York and around the country?  To what extent do the scarcity of affordable housing, discrimination, and a lack of information shape those neighborhood choices? What strategies should federal, state or local agencies adopt to help voucher households reach better neighborhoods, and how feasible are those strategies?

The Housing Choice Voucher program, begun in 1974 as Section 8, was created not only to provide rental assistance to low-income households, but also to provide those households access to a broad range of neighborhoods. A disproportionate number of voucher households around the country currently live in high-poverty neighborhoods, however, raising important concerns about the program’s effectiveness in enhancing neighborhood choice.

Panelists included:
-The Honorable Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate, City of New York
-Sheldon Mann, Director of Management and Development, Langsam Property Services
-Jennifer Lee O’Neil, Director, Quadel Consulting Corporation
-John Rhea, Chairman, New York City Housing Authority
-Ingrid Gould Ellen (Moderator), Co-Director, NYU’s Furman Center for
Real Estate and Urban Policy