The Community Choice Voucher Program in metropolitan Boston has found success recruiting landlords in high-opportunity neighborhoods by financing unit repairs. The program grew out of litigation brought against HUD in the late 1990s by the NAACP Boston Chapter, resulting in the creation of a metropolitan-wide mobility program. The Consent Decree required HUD to allocate 500 housing vouchers to the Boston metropolitan area, 100 of which were to be administered by the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP). Voucher recipients were given an extended lease-up period of 120 days to find an apartment in a “choice” neighborhood. Choice neighborhoods in this region were defined as census tracts with less than 40 percent minority population.
In the early 2000s, the MBHP program received an allocation of $160,000 to design a more comprehensive mobility program, known as the Community Choice Voucher Program. While this funding allowed the organization to hire a mobility counselor to assist with apartment searches and community orientations, demand for housing at the time was extremely high, and it was often difficult to recruit landlords into the program. MBHP found that landlords would often pull out of the program if they were told they had to make repairs during the inspection process. Rather than spend the money to make repairs, landlords could easily opt out of the program and find a market rate renter instead.
MBHP worked to address this issue with the creation of a landlord fund to finance necessary unit repairs. As of 2014, 85 of the 100 choice community vouchers were used in high-opportunity areas.
Due to funding shortages, the Community Choice Voucher Program has had to cut back on services. While the landlord fund was a viable option for increasing the stock of voucher-eligible units in choice communities, MBHP has been unable to consistently sustain the fund throughout the years.
For More Info:
Susan Nohl, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership
Email: [email protected]