Housing Choice Voucher Mobility in Houston

Report by John Park , Kyle Shelton
October 2019

Kinder Institute for Urban Research   (Houston)

The Housing Choice Voucher program is a critical form of affordable housing subsidy. It aims to provide recipients the opportunity to live in areas that offer greater opportunities by underwriting a portion of their rent to make housing more affordable. But is the program accomplishing this goal in Houston? 

This research finds that some voucher holders in Houston are indeed using the program to move into areas with higher incomes and likely higher opportunities. However, only 10% of voucher holders moved in the year of our analysis, meaning that the majority are not taking advantage of all the possibilities created by the voucher program. 

Affordability and access to opportunity are two critical elements of the program, but with increasing flood risks in Houston, whether or not the voucher program is enabling residents to find safer homes is also a critical question. This report finds that voucher holders are, in general, moving away from high-flood risk areas, suggesting that many are aware of risks in certain areas. However, a minority of voucher holders actually moved into areas with high-flood risk, raising questions about the best ways to ensure recipients are aware of and prepared for future risks.