Case Study of Section 8 Rental Vouchers and Rental Certificates in Alameda County, California

Authors: Center for Urban Policy Research | Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy | Varady, David | Walker, Carole C.


Release Date: October 2000 (138 pages)
Posted Date: October 1, 2000

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This report presents the results of a study of the movement of Section 8 families from the inner cities of Oakland and Berkeley in San Francisco's East Bay to suburban Alameda County. The research team interviewed Section 8 families about their housing search, their reasons for moving to the suburban areas of the county, the outcome of their moves, and conditions in their new housing and neighborhoods compared with conditions in their previous housing and neighborhoods. Interviews with program administrators in Alameda County provided information on how administrative procedures affected the ability of families to make various types of moves.

During the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) observed that many Section 8 families in Alameda County were taking advantage of portability, a feature of the Section 8 program that allows families to use their housing voucher or certificate across housing authority jurisdictions. These families moved from inner-city Oakland and Berkeley to the suburban portion of the county. In contrast, in other sections of the country, HUD has found that many Section 8 families choose to rent units in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty; they do not use their voucher or certificate to move to neighborhoods with better job opportunities, better schools, and a better quality of life. HUD encourages Section 8 families to move away from areas with high concentrations of poverty and into more affluent neighborhoods throughout metropolitan areas. The Alameda County case study sheds light on families that have already made this transition under the Section 8 program.

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