The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently published a report disputing suggestions that providing rental assistance to more families through the Build Back Better (BBB) bill will drive up rents by increasing demand for housing or enabling landlords to overcharge. The report builds on two prior research studies that showed that past voucher expansions had little impact on rents overall. CBPP asserts that additional housing vouchers provided through BBB would “only have a limited impact on rents,” for four main reasons.
- Most vouchers help current renters afford decent, stable housing rather than creating new renter households that fill up additional units. CBPP predicts that over 8 million extremely low-income households (ELI) are paying more than half of their income to rent but would likely use their voucher to lower their rental costs in their current unit and not increase housing demand.
- Rental markets can absorb some additional voucher households just as they absorb other new renters. CBPP estimates that if BBB funds 60,000 additional vouchers, approximately one-third of those voucher holders may need a new unit. These 20,000 new units represent 1 percent of the number of units that are vacant and currently for rent and 0.04 percent of the nation’s total number of rental units.
- $170 billion in BBB provisions expanding housing supply would help absorb vouchers, especially in tight markets.
The voucher program has safeguards that limit landlords’ abilities to charge above-market rents in units rented to voucher holders. Voucher payment standards, which cap subsidies at levels based on moderate rents in the local market, provide a check against excessive rents.