Getting in the Door: Housing Search Histories of Voucher Recipients
The Housing Choice Voucher (HVC) program subsidizes the private market rents of nearly two million poor households nationwide, and roughly 20,000 in Seattle and the greater King County area. Nearly half of all Seattle voucher holders live in the same five southeast Seattle census tracts, which have higher poverty rates, higher concentrations of female-headed households, and lower educational attainment compared to other Seattle neighborhoods. This qualitative study “shadows” a sample of 10 Seattle voucher holders through the housing search process, creating housing search histories that track voucher holders from the moment of voucher receipt to the point of lease signing or voucher loss after failing to find housing. Matching interview and administrative data incorporates detailed information about pre- and post-move addresses, household composition, and income. The research aims to map the housing search process, tracking the steps and decisions that bring voucher holders from pre-voucher housing and neighborhoods to post-voucher housing. Housing authorities struggle to provide housing counseling, but lack theory or evidence to design programs. This project will inform an emerging theoretical framework to guide program design, and identify the types of information and services that may help voucher holders achieve neighborhood mobility or personal housing goals.