How can we reduce the barriers landlords face to participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program?

How can we reduce the barriers landlords face to participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program?

Project Summary

The federal Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program helps very low-income renters afford housing on the private market. But the HCV program has generally struggled to attract and retain landlords. In Minneapolis, MN, we surveyed landlords to better understand the barriers they face to participating in the HCV program. We then used this information to design and test tailored messages aimed at increasing interest in the HCV program.

Why is this issue important?

The largest federal rental assistance program, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, has been found to dramatically reduce homelessness and housing instability and facilitate geographic and economic mobility. Its success depends crucially on participation from landlords, which determines both how many units are available to voucher holders and where these units are located. Yet, there is little evidence on what strategies are most effective at encouraging greater program participation from landlords.

What are we doing?

In partnership with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), we conducted an online survey among all landlords in the city to assess beliefs and perceptions of the HCV program. Based on the survey findings, we then designed two tailored outreach messages aimed at reducing specific barriers that may deter landlords from participating in the HCV program: process complexity and the stigma associated with tenants who use vouchers. In a randomized experiment, we are evaluating which message is most effective at increasing interest in the program among the city’s landlords.

What have we learned?

This project is ongoing and results are expected in Fall 2022.

What comes next?

This pilot will help increase our understanding of the barriers landlords face to participating in the HCV program, and will inform efforts to design and scale similar interventions with other public housing authorities.