Housing Vouchers Fall Short of Rising Rents
A study finds that several Fla. metros now “stand out for their extreme mismatches” between housing aid and asking rents, with Orlando the nation’s top “mismatch.”
SEATTLE – During the first two years of the pandemic, the typical U.S. rent increased 18% while the value of housing vouchers rose only 7%. The vouchers also don’t help everyone who needs it. In 2021, there were 19 million voucher-eligible households but fewer than 2 million vouchers.
According to Zillow research, most U.S. metros have almost 10 times more qualified voucher recipients than vouchers. The analysis also found that voucher values grew at less than half the pace of typical rents during the pandemic.
“Renters across the country are struggling as costs have skyrocketed and vouchers have failed to keep up,” says Orphe Divounguy, Zillow senior economist. “Better calculating for voucher values and more funding are good short-term solutions, but building more homes is the long-term answer.”
The research didn’t find a single large metro area with enough vouchers to meet demand – and there were nearly four times more severely cost-burdened households than voucher recipients.
Florida a top state for voucher/asking-rent mismatch
Orlando had the highest mismatch in the nation, with 12 severely cost-burdened households for every available voucher.
Counties with the biggest disparity between rent growth and voucher values were scattered throughout the country, the research found, but Florida – a state that experienced among the fastest rent increases in the country – stood out again with several counties suffering the largest gaps.
In Miami-Dade County, rent growth outpaced voucher values by almost 50 percentage points in those two years.
U.S. county – percent that rent growth outpaced voucher values
- Miami-Dade County – 47.8 %
- Lee County – 46.5 %
- Palm Beach County – 38.9 %
- Broward County – 37.7 %
- Ocean County, New Jersey – 33.8 %
- Pinellas County – 28.2 %How vouchers work
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rental assistance program provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and sometimes is referred to as Section 8. The program pays landlords a portion of the rent directly on behalf of the tenant, and the tenant pays the difference.
Voucher eligibility is based on income and family size. In general, a family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. Typically, a voucher holder pays about 30% of their income as rent and the program pays the rest, up to a ceiling determined by HUD as the area’s fair market value.
Recent Zillow research found that it would take four full-time minimum wage workers to reasonably afford a two-bedroom rental, illustrating the daunting financial challenges many renters face today.
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