The Consequences of Rising Suburban Poverty on the Housing Choice Voucher Program: A Study of Atlanta, Georgia

Kooragayala, Shiva

This study investigates the consequences of suburban poverty on meeting two primary goals of the HUD-administered housing choice voucher (HCV) program: to de-concentrate inner-city poverty and to extend greater access to opportunities that enable socioeconomic mobility. Recent studies have shown that housing choice vouchers have been spreading away from central cities into the suburbs. While promising, the quality of many of these suburban neighborhoods no longer aligns with the idealistic notions of suburban opportunity. This paper measures the quality of the neighborhoods in which voucher-occupied households are located. It then compares the quality of suburban and urban neighborhoods by using composite neighborhood quality and opportunity structure indices. The data confirm a decentralization of vouchers but highlight re-clustering in low-quality and opportunity-poor suburbs. Secondly, although suburban neighborhoods collectively are of higher quality, their opportunity structures are relatively weak. Furthermore, there is an inverse relationship between neighborhood quality and the proportion of voucher-occupied households regardless of racial makeup and metropolitan location. Atlanta’s public housing authorities need to engage in more intentional strategies to help families move to opportunity-rich neighborhoods and to work past existing barriers to geographic mobility. Future policy objectives need to encourage inter-municipality collaboration and to target federal and state aid for neighborhood development.

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Also Published In

The Journal of Politics and Society

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Academic Units
Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
Published Here
February 14, 2014