New Study on HCV Lease-Up Rates Finds Variation Across Race and Location

Date Published: 
January 10th, 2024

A study published in the Journal of Housing Economics uses unique administrative data to estimate voucher lease-up rates and search times for about 85,000 new voucher recipients each year in 433 metropolitan housing authorities from 2015 to 2019. The study found that only 60% of recipients successfully use their vouchers, even after waiting for 2.5 years on average to receive them.

The authors found wide variation in lease-up rates across markets and within individual markets. In general, they observed longer search times and lower lease-up rates in markets with lower vacancy rates, greater cross-neighborhood dispersion in rents, and older housing stocks that may be less likely to pass HUD’s inspections. Median search time for successful searches ranged between 59 and 63 days.

The study also found racial disparities in lease-up rates: lease-up rates were lower among Black and Hispanic voucher recipients than other recipients in the same markets, even after controlling for market factors. The authors found evidence that racial disparities are partly explained by differing conditions in the neighborhoods where voucher recipients start. According to the authors, differences in neighborhood conditions explain 44% of the within-metro Black–white disparities and 37% of the Hispanic-white disparities in 180-day lease-up rates.


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