CBPP Releases Update to Voucher Benefits Paper
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently released an updated version of its paper, Research Shows Housing Vouchers Reduce Hardship and Provide Platform for Long-Term Gains Among Children. According to the paper, vouchers and other rental assistance lifted 2.8 million people—including about 900,000 children—above the poverty line in 2014 under the federal government’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which counts non-cash benefits. Vouchers alone probably produced at least half of that effect. In addition, children whose families move to low-poverty neighborhoods when they’re young are more likely to attend college and earn higher incomes as adults. These positive impacts also extend to adults including improved mental and physical health. Housing vouchers have also been shown to decrease homelessness, housing instability, and overcrowding, all of which have negative impacts for children.
By reducing families’ rental costs, rental assistance allows them to devote more of their limited resources to meeting other basic needs. Families paying large shares of their income for rent spend less on food, clothing, health care, and transportation than those with affordable rents. Children in low-income households that pay around 30 percent of their income for rent (as voucher holders typically do) score better on cognitive development tests than children in households with higher rent burdens; researchers suggest that this is partly because parents with affordable rent burdens can invest more in activities and materials that support their children’s development. Children in families that are behind on their rent, on the other hand, are disproportionately likely to be in poor health and experience developmental delays.