According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), in 2010, 88% of the approximately 2.1 million households receiving Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers were elderly, disabled, working or subject to a work requirement under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
CBPP analyzed HUD administrative data on the demographic characteristics of voucher holders and found that in 2010, nearly half of all voucher households were either elderly or disabled. This was a significant increase from 2000 when only 39% of voucher households fit this demographic. This increase can be largely attributed to the 82% increase in the number of households headed by a non-elderly person with disabilities receiving a voucher.
In evaluating the level of self-sufficiency among voucher households, CBPP found that almost two-thirds of non-elderly and non-disabled voucher households worked in 2010 or 2009 despite the weak economy. The annual median earnings for these households was $15,600, which, according to the authors, was not sufficient to afford decent housing in most markets. Another 11% of the non-elderly, non-disabled voucher holders received TANF benefits and were therefore subject to work requirements.
Only 12% of all voucher households are not elderly, disabled or attached to the labor force in any way, according to the CBPP analysis. Nearly half of these households include either a small child or a family member who is disabled, which could make it difficult for the head of household to work.
Finally, the CBPP report shows that the median amount of time that a non-elderly, non-disabled voucher household receives assistance is 48 months, and it is more likely that a household will keep its voucher longer if the household lives in a higher-cost rental market. Even though voucher holders in high-cost areas may receive assistance longer, they are also more likely to be working than those in lower cost areas. The implication of this finding, according to the report, is that as Congress limits the availability of new housing vouchers, fewer vouchers become available for new entrants in high-cost rental areas, where they are often most needed.
The CBPP report, Large Majority of Housing Voucher Recipients Work, Are Elderly, or Have Disabilities: Higher Housing Costs Drive Longer Stays for Working Families is available at http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3634