Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Source of Income Protections and Locational Outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An elusive goal of the Housing Choice Voucher program is to provide more—and better—locational choices for recipient households. Yet landlord discrimination can be a barrier, particularly in areas of greater opportunity. Using a difference-in-difference design with different comparison groups, we evaluate the effectiveness of source-of-income discrimination laws in 31 jurisdictions enacting such laws between 2007 and 2017 in improving locational outcomes for voucher households. We find evidence that such laws lead to more upwardly mobile moves (or greater improvement in neighborhoods) among existing voucher holders who move. Specifically, existing voucher holders who move post enactment experience greater reductions in neighborhood poverty rates and in voucher household shares. We also find that after SOI laws pass, voucher holders move to neighborhoods with larger white population shares than their original neighborhoods. Effects are modest, but they hold for households whose head is Black as well as for families with children, two groups who may face greater challenges in housing markets. We do not find any change in the characteristics of the neighborhoods where new voucher holders lease up after the passage of SOI laws, but this may be confounded by compositional change in the neighborhoods where successful voucher holders originate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-962
Number of pages22
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • Vouchers
  • discrimination
  • fair housing
  • mobility
  • poverty concentration
  • segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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