Rooms for Improvement: A Qualitative Meta-analysis of the Housing Choice Voucher Program Rooms for Improvement: A Qualitative Meta-analysis of the Housing Choice Voucher Program

This article synthesizes housing subsidy voucher studies to explain why, when in theory, vouchers enable users to move out of poor neighborhoods, in practice, they often do not. This qualitative meta-analysis presents an examination of the formative assumptions of the program and their relationship to empirical findings.

Two themes emerged from this synthesis: market barriers and product problems. Qualitative data from a variety of studies and contexts portray recipients struggling to use vouchers in the private rental market due to the inaccessibility of public transportation and the presence of discrimination. Additionally product problems constrained freedom of choice about where to move and when to make a housing transition. These constraints manifest as compromised housing quality and low voucher utilization. This synthetic view cannot account for all outcomes or exceptional cases, but where the program intersects with more general phenomena, the results lead to seemingly consistent and predictable results.

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