Project-Based Vouchers: CBPP Report Offers Lessons from the Past to Guide Future Policy

Date Published: 
November 8th, 2023

Project-Based Vouchers (PBVs) were under contract to subsidize over 300,000 housing units in 2022. With over 60% of all medium and large PHAs operating a PBV program, and more than 1 out of every 9 households receiving voucher subsidies living in a PBV unit, the PBV program has grown rapidly and will likely continue to do so. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) analyzes the key features of the PBV program, the PBV policy reforms enacted since 2000, and innovative PBV policies that the CBPP recommends should be implemented.

Prior to 2000, PHAs had the option to project-base 15% of their HUD funding for tenant-based rental assistance, but few made use of this option for several reasons. Project-based assistance was limited to five years or fewer. Rules governing the PBV program as it existed before 2000 were cumbersome and difficult to implement. Project-basing was only permitted in newly constructed buildings or buildings rehabilitated with other funds, and PBV-assisted properties had the same perceived deficiencies as other types of properties with project-based rental assistance.

Since 2000, Congress has made a number of policy amendments to the PBV program, most notably in 2008 and 2016. The two most significant policy changes were a major expansion of the share of a PHA’s overall number of vouchers that can be project-based (the “Program Cap”), and an increase in the share of units in a property that may have PBVs (the “Project Cap”).

According to CBPP, two key policies that distinguish the PBV program from other federal project-based rental assistance programs are the requirements for Resident Choice and for economic integration within properties with PBVs and the neighborhoods where PBVs are located. The author argues that the Resident Choice policy creates an incentive for owners to keep their properties well-maintained. Finally, the author discusses whether the current cap on the share of vouchers an agency may project-base should be raised, as well as other proposed policy revisions to the PBV program based on research.


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