HUD Aims to Boost Landlord Acceptance of Housing Vouchers

HUD on Monday announced a plan to encourage more apartment owners to participate in its Housing Choice Voucher program.

The Housing Choice Voucher rental subsidy program helps more than two million low-income households each year to afford an apartment. But two new studies found most landlords do not accept voucher-holders and those that do complain about the program’s administrative requirements and about the housing authorities that manage the program at the local level.

“These studies tell us that we have a lot of work to do to engage more landlords, so our Housing Choice Voucher program can offer real choice to the families we serve,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “We will be traveling the country to hear directly from landlords about how we can make this critical program more user friendly.”

Next month, HUD will release a new study of landlord voucher acceptance in five cities: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Ft. Worth, Newark, N.J. and Washington, D.C. The study, conducted by the Urban Institute, used paired testing methods across multiple sites to examine landlord treatment of voucher recipients. While landlord participation varied across the five study sites, the researchers found many voucher recipients are challenged to find a landlord that will accept their vouchers.

In addition, the survey found landlords would often ‘stand up’ testers posing as voucher recipients and deny rental requests once testers revealed their source of income.

Another study by Johns Hopkins University examined the role landlords and property managers play in housing low-income tenants, especially voucher recipients, in Baltimore, Cleveland and Dallas. The researchers found the main reasons given for not participating in the HCV program were frustrations with required inspections and disappointment with how local housing authorities handle disputes with tenants.

To encourage more landlords and property managers to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, HUD will host nationwide forums with housing providers, especially those that do not participate in the voucher program. HUD expects these “listening forums” to reveal how the department might make its primary rent subsidy program more accessible and acceptable, specifically in higher opportunity neighborhoods where landlord participation is lowest.

HUD will begin its “landlord engagement” campaign on September 20 in Washington, D.C. Other landlord forums are planned in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Salem, Ore.