New Orleans Report Shows Link Between Housing Vouchers and Gun Violence
A recently published report from the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center showed that children living in voucher-assisted households are more likely to live in violent neighborhoods. According to the report, fewer than 2 percent of children in voucher-assisted families live in one of the 13 New Orleans neighborhoods that has averaged zero shootings between 2011 and 2015. Meanwhile, 55 percent of kids living in voucher-assisted households live among the 12 neighborhoods that have averaged more than 10 shootings annually during that same time period.
The fair housing organization still vouches for the housing voucher system, saying that it can be helpful in moving families to safer, healthier communities if structured correctly. For New Orleans, that means changing the formula under which the value of housing vouchers is created. Right now, that value is determined largely by what the average costs are to rent an apartment or house across a city, per U.S. HUD guidelines. Under a “small-area fair market rent” methodology, voucher values would be based on average rental costs across a Zip code, with higher values for more expensive neighborhoods.
The report notes that cities that abide by the “small-area” method have done so without increasing the costs of the voucher program and without shrinking the number of families served by the program. Also, when public housing agencies offer counseling services to families to assist them with their housing search, this increases the chances that they’ll move into better communities.