The Housing Voucher Program: Reducing Homelessness in Louisiana

Posted by: Teaway Zehyoue Collins

Since its creation in 1974 by Congress, the Housing Choice Voucher Program has become the largest federal low-income housing assistance program in the country. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as “Section 8,” is funded entirely by the federal government. The program is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and operates through state, regional, and local public housing agencies.  In Louisiana, the program provides vouchers to over 30,000 low-income individuals and families to help pay for housing that they find in the private market.  

Low-income individuals and families in Louisiana can qualify for housing vouchers if their family income is below 50 percent of the median income which is $21,817 annually in Louisiana, but a majority of newly admitted households to the voucher program have income at or below 30 percent of the median income, which is $13,090 annually in Louisiana. Families and individuals in Louisiana have 60 days to find their own housing including single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments, paying 30 percent of their adjusted gross income on rent and using the voucher to pay the rest of the amount charged by the landlord for rent.

Housing vouchers protect low-income families and individuals from homelessness and housing instability. For example, over 12,000 families in Louisiana received housing vouchers after being displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. In addition, housing vouchers help families and individuals move out of high-poverty neighborhoods to neighborhoods with better schools and higher employment. Housing in Louisiana, as well as other states that receive Low-Income Housing Tax Credits or certain other federal subsidies qualify for “Section 8” status and allow low-income families to use their vouchers to cover rental costs or mortgage payments. By helping to reduce homelessness among thousands of families in Louisiana, the housing vouching program has become the most cost-effective means for delivering decent, safe, and sanitary housing to low-income families especially children, the disabled, and elderly.

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