The Housing Voucher Choice Program: More than Just a Lagniappe for New Orleans

Mercatus Policy Comment No. 13

24 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2009

See all articles by Emily Schaeffer

Emily Schaeffer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: August 29, 2007


One of the most pressing questions facing New Orleans policy makers is how to best deal with housing for low-income individuals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. State and local officials in Louisiana currently favor implementing a program of publicly financed mixed-income developments (MIDs) as a means of providing low-income housing for New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Katrina.

This policy comment explores the difficulties that MIDs face in assisting low income residents with housing by revisiting the lessons learned from similar policies of the past coupled with findings from research conducted in post-Katrina New Orleans. The findings suggest that housing assistance should shift from government publicly-financed housing (MIDs and "Projects") toward the provision of housing through a voucher system.

In a post-disaster situation, general strides can be made to change the failing policies of the past. This is particularly important for New Orleans as the city struggles to rebuild both the physical and social landscape. Avoiding former policy traps means moving away from publicly-financed housing. For these reasons, we recommend the following reforms:

1. Halt the adoption and construction of all forms of project-based assistance, including the revitalization of government projects and construction of mixed-income developments.

2. Administer all future housing assistance directly to the recipient through vouchers.

3. Transfer the property rights of government projects from public to private hands.

4. Provide an institutional climate favorable to real estate investment.

Keywords: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, public housing, low-income housing

Suggested Citation

Schaeffer, Emily, The Housing Voucher Choice Program: More than Just a Lagniappe for New Orleans (August 29, 2007). Mercatus Policy Comment No. 13. Available at SSRN: or

Emily Schaeffer (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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