Today’s Read: Study Finds Section 8 Pays Off in Homelessness Fight

The Coalition has long advocated Section 8 as a long-term solution to homelessness, and a new study conducted for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development provides new evidence of the stabilizing effect of the rental subsidies.

Researchers monitored more than 2,000 homeless families in 12 cities who were participating in different types of programs, and they concluded that the families who received permanent housing vouchers were the most likely to maintain stable housing.

Section 8 vouchers allow families to rent market-rate housing of their choice by providing a flexible subsidy. Researchers found that the stability provided by the vouchers led to reduced substance abuse, domestic violence and hunger, as compared to families who remained in shelters.

There is no question that the best way to fight homelessness is by investing in permanent housing. Given the severe overcrowding in homeless shelters and the current dearth of available Section 8 vouchers, it is imperative that the government bolster funding for this research-backed solution.

Katie Johnston wrote about the study for The Boston Globe:

“Housing subsidies not only cure homelessness but also have radiating impacts on other aspects of family well-being, with comparable costs,” said Marybeth Shinn, a Vanderbilt University professor and one of the lead researchers for the study, which was released this week. “I was surprised by the wide-ranging impact.”

The program lost 67,000 vouchers during federal sequestration cuts in 2013. While funding has increased since then, it has not recovered enough to replace all the lost vouchers.

The [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] study, the first of its kind, involved 2,282 homeless families in 12 cities, including Boston, who were randomly assigned to one of four types of intervention: permanent housing subsidies such as vouchers; 18-month rental assistance known as rapid-rehousing, combined with services to help find housing; two-year transitional housing in agency-run facilities, with support services; and shelters and other forms of assistance they accessed on their own.