The Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) Program, formerly known as Section 8, is the federal government’s most extensive housing subsidy program. Across the country, the program subsidizes the cost of housing for over two-million low-income families, individuals with disabilities, and older adults, including more than 45,000 families in Los Angeles (Center on Budget and Policies (CBPP), 2019; Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), 2019). Through the program, families can apply for a federal subsidy to assist with housing. Voucher holders expect to pay approximately 30% of their income towards their rent, and the federal government subsidizes the rest, directly funding the other approximately 70% of the rent to the landlord.
However, because the program also gave landlords a choice whether or not to accept vouchers, discrimination still occurs. In a study by the Urban Institute conducted between April 2016 and July 2017, three out of four landlords in Los Angeles would not rent a unit to voucher holders (Cunningham et al., 2018). Voucher denials can lead to segregation and limited opportunities for beneficiaries.
This literature review will examine how landlords discriminate against voucher holders and the effects that housing choice voucher discrimination, both intentional and systemic, has on voucher holders. Additionally, this review will examine potential reforms at the local, state, and federal level to end discrimination against voucher holders.