A Case Study of Anacostia: The Role of Housing Vouchers on the Local Housing Market
Scott, Derrick A
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From the time of the New Deal legislation in the 1930s, the Federal government has provided some form of housing relief for people with low income. Today, the primary demand side subsidy program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), which subsidizes rents for low-income people and households to live in places where market-rate rents are beyond their economic means. During the last two decades many Americans cities have been transitioning and affordable housing is becoming scarce even in formerly low-income neighborhoods. In these transitioning neighborhoods current rents are prohibitive for low-income residents. However, with a subsidy through HCVP, this population can remain in its original neighborhood. Landlords are assured full market value rents, while renting to low-income tenants. The residents of the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, D.C. are predominately low-income and African-American. Using Anacostia as a case study, this paper shows how HCVP has increased in volume and, in the face of diminishing affordable housing, recipients of this subsidy are concentrating in this low rent neighborhood rather than dispersing throughout Washington DC. This is a mixed methods study using data gathered from the Washington D.C. Housing Authority, home sales, home rental prices, census, and interviews with participants in HCVP. The findings of this study reveal that HCVP has been successful in improving the lives and residences of low-income people but that vouchers are geographically concentrated to the lowest income neighborhoods of Washington D.C.