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Is There A Link Between Low-Income Housing and Crime?

Low Income Housing Crime

Section 8 housing in itself does not necessarily increase crime. The problem is that privately-owned housing that is owned by landlords are often located in areas where the crime already exists

Low-income housing generally takes two different forms. One is public housing which is owned by the government or a government authority.The other is what is known as the Section 8 Rental Assistance Program. It dates back to 1974. Eligible low-income families receive vouchers which they can use to rent housing from participating landlords who have privately owned rental housing available.

Both programs provide financial assistance to families whose income is anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of the median income in the area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds the subsidies to public agencies that help low-income families pay their rent. The tenant pays a portion of the rent and public agencies pay the rest directly to the landlord. The problem discovered by recent research shows that those living in Section 8 Rental Assistance housing often live in higher crime areas. Why?

The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University examined the issue and released the results in 2012. The results showed that crime does not follow low-income families but they tend to follow crime by moving into neighborhoods where it already exists. 

The difference with public housing is that it is owned by government agencies who have more control over where public housing is built. In addition, public housing is more likely to tear town deteriorating housing and relocate low-income families in better, and safer, neighborhoods. The conclusion reached by the study is that the voucher program’s purposes to help low-income households live in “better” neighborhoods, as well as affordable, is not being met.

HUD is currently looking at two areas to find a solution to the problem. One is to examine fair market rents in metropolitan areas to see if higher rents are limiting housing options for low-income families. The other is to examine the process currently being used by public agencies to see if any changes need to be made. This is certainly a good start to ensure that affordable housing assistance not only provides housing but safe housing for families.

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