The Effect of Relaxing Local Housing Market Regulations on the Number of Recipients of Federal Rental Housing Assistance Programs
21 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 18, 2021
The majority of U.S. households that qualify for federal rental housing assistance do not receive it. In the absence of an entitlement to housing assistance for all who qualify, an underexplored cause of the shortfall is that higher rents in some areas driven by supply-constraining local regulations drive up program costs, leaving fewer funds available to serve additional families. In this paper, we first show that because the federal government bears the full cost of any incremental increase in market rents in assisted housing units, stringent local regulations can substantially increase the federal cost of covering a fixed number of families. We then simulate the effect of deregulation that reduces home prices to the cost of producing a home in 11 substantially supply-constrained metropolitan areas, which we translate into reduced market rents and ultimately cost savings for federal rental housing assistance programs. We estimate that post-deregulation, the Housing Choice Voucher program and Section 8 Project-based assistance program could save a combined $3.9 billion, which could serve 13 percent (424,000) more families.
Keywords: Housing assistance, Regulation, Land use, Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-based Section 8
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