Get the Facts
Responding to Some Commonly Heard Concerns About Housing Mobility:
“Housing Mobility” is one of the most effective policy and program tools available to address the housing needs of low income families. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most misunderstood. The purpose of this section is to respond to some of the most common concerns, misconceptions and criticisms of “housing mobility” as an element of low income housing policy.
Below you can find our responses to common criticisms of housing mobility programs.
Voucher holders don’t want to move. Housing mobility forces people to leave “their” communities.
Skeptics/opponents of housing mobility say that encouraging or supporting families’ moves to lower poverty areas amounts to “forced displacement” and that low income families prefer to stay where they are (near family, friends, support networks, churches, services, public transportation, etc)
Participating in a housing mobility program is voluntary
One size does not fit all. Housing mobility is a voluntary program and not everyone will make the same choice, but all the functioning mobility programs have a greater demand for their services than they have the resources to provide.
Families who choose to participate express many reasons for making that choice, including wanting to move to a safer neighborhood, wanting better schools for their kids, wanting access to better and healthier food choices, and wanting access to the sorts of public amenities that are often available in more resourced communities.
It is the mission of a housing mobility program to give families the information necessary for the family to make the best choice for themselves, not based on assumptions and stereotypes. (i.e. many voucher holders have cars and some suburbs have public transportation).
Motivated Families Should Stay to Improve their Communities
Some say that they believe offering mobility services will cause motivated families leave a high-poverty neighborhood, causing the neighborhood to be even worse off.
Housing Choice is a Civil Right.
Using public policy to hold low income families of color hostage in high poverty, historically racially segregated and neglected areas cannot be justified, whatever the rationale.
Nor is there any evidence to date that such containment strategies work to improve neighborhoods
Voucher Families Bring Crime to Safe Neighborhoods
Residents in opportunity neighborhoods often say that they believe subsidized households will increase crime in their community.
Research Does Not Support this Fear
Several academic studies have found, NO correlation between subsidized housing and crime. To the extent that crime is correlated with high concentrations of poverty, the goal of mobility programs is to deconcentrate poverty by helping voucher holders be able to live in safer, more economically diverse communities.
Voucher holders undergo public housing criminal background screening, and are subject to the same private landlord eligibility requirements as non-subsidized tenants.
The voucher Program is Burdensome for Landlords
Landlords often complain that the voucher program is administratively burdensome or costs them time and money for inspections and contract execution.
Mobility Programs have Significant Benefits for Landlords, and can Assist Landlords with Challenges
Mobility programs have significant benefits for landlords, including guaranteed rent and, additional level of background screening by the PHA, and access to the tenants mobility counselor to assist if any issues arise during the tenancy.
Some programs offer an “incentive bonus” to a landlord trying the program for the first time. Perhaps most importantly for the landlord who is concerned about bureaucratic hassle, mobility counselors have years of experience with the administrative requirements of the voucher program and can work to make this process easier for landlords.