Households Receiving Housing Choice Vouchers Spend Nearly 2.5 Years on Waitlist

A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Families Wait Years for Housing Vouchers Due to Inadequate Funding,” examines 2020 HUD data on Housing Choice Voucher waitlists. The authors report that nationally households that receive housing vouchers have waited nearly two and a half years before they received them. In areas managed by the largest public housing authorities, the average wait time can be up to 8 years.

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program helps low-income renters afford homes on the private market, by paying landlords the difference between what the rent can afford to pay (30% of their income) and the actual rent, up to a reasonable amount. The program serves 2.3 million households, but previous analysis from CBPP found that only one out of every four households who are eligible for federal rental assistance (including the HCV program) actually receive it. Because of limited funding, not every eligible household receives assistance, and this study examines how long renters must wait before receiving a voucher. The authors note that their analysis does not include households who never receive assistance and does not capture the full harm of the shortage, since many renters live in communities where they cannot even join a waitlist.

Wait times for vouchers vary across the country, but the national average is 28 months. In Nebraska and West Virginia, the average wait is 9 months; in Alabama, the average is 5 years. Of the 50 largest public housing agencies, only two have wait times under a year. In Miami-Dade, Florida, the current average wait time is 8 years. The housing agency in Miami-Dade is processing applications it received during its last open enrollment period in 2008. The authors note that these wait times are not due to agencies failing to spend funding they have received: between 2011 and 2020, the agencies that operate the voucher program spent 99.9% of the funding they received.

Read the report at:

See the Advocates’ Guide for more information on the Housing Choice Voucher program at: