A paper published in Cityscape by Rebecca Walter and Vince Wang, A Research Note: The Housing Choice Voucher Program and Access to Opportunity in Florida’s Nonmetropolitan Areas, examines the geographic distribution of Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) in Florida across large metropolitan, small metropolitan, and nonmetropolitan areas. The paper finds that voucher holders in nonmetropolitan areas are less geographically concentrated and have better access to neighborhoods with relatively higher opportunity.
While most previous research has focused on HCV recipients in metropolitan areas, this paper focuses on the 2% of Floridian voucher holders who reside in micropolitan and rural areas. A micropolitan area is a county or group of counties with economic and social ties to a central urban cluster of 10,000 to 50,000 people.
The authors’ analysis found no concentrations of voucher holders in nonmetropolitan areas, meaning that voucher holders were randomly dispersed. HCV holders in rural areas tended to live in neighborhoods with the best environmental quality, while those in micropolitan areas enjoyed higher-quality schools and better proximity to jobs than those in metropolitan areas. Voucher holders in large metropolitan areas tended to have better transit access.
The authors combined seven measures of opportunity (job proximity, school proficiency, low poverty, labor market engagement, environmental health, low transportation cost, and transit trips). In 13 of the 16 rural counties and in 6 of the 7 micropolitan counties, voucher holders resided in neighborhoods with higher opportunity scores than the county overall. Voucher holders in only 13 of the 44 metropolitan counties resided in neighborhoods with higher opportunity relative to the county.
The findings suggest that the HCV program performs differently across metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas when it comes to voucher concentration and potential for mobility. Efforts to deconcentrate voucher holders might not be as relevant in nonmetropolitan areas.
A Research Note: The Housing Choice Voucher Program and Access to Opportunity in Florida’s Nonmetropolitan Areas is available at: http://bit.ly/2yDfRi9