I was encouraged to see the June 26 front-page article “Housing vouchers a golden ticket to pricey suburbs,” outlining the importance of Section 8 vouchers — both for the 2 million families fortunate enough to receive vouchers, and for the diversity and stability of our neighborhoods. However, the article did not recognize that the same sentiments and stereotypes regarding voucher holders voiced by prospective neighbors — e.g., “there goes the neighborhood” — are also held by some landlords.
Many jurisdictions across the country, including the District, have recognized the importance of protecting voucher-holders from such stereotypes and have made it illegal to discriminate based on “source of income.” Yet despite these protections, discrimination endures. A report by the Equal Rights Center found that in 2010, 45 percent of individuals attempting to use Housing Choice Vouchers in the District faced discrimination.
Hopefully, with more awareness about the benefits of voucher programs, this type of discrimination will diminish.
Donald L. Kahl, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Equal Rights Center.
The changing face of suburbia is a timely and important story, though the article on housing vouchers fell short in recognizing the role of vouchers. For landlords, the Section 8 program is a useful option for dealing with vacancies; for program beneficiaries, the suburbs may pose an opportunity to enjoy higher-quality services, including public schools.
Chicago’s famed Gautreaux Project demonstrated the benefits of public housing programs that not only helped poor individuals with rent but also gave them the mobility to live in better communities.
Though The Post article told us about a prospective tenant’s Lil Wayne ringtone and pets, we learned little about the broader impact a suburban housing voucher may have on this woman’s life and family. There is more opportunity in the suburbanization of Section 8 than the article revealed. These demographic trends are worth following as real estate markets change and recover.
Benjamin Chrisinger, Warrenton
The article on housing vouchers described a success story but left out an important feature of the voucher program — that the rent the tenant pays is based on income. Once Section 8 recipient Liza Jackson moves to new neighborhood that offers more opportunity, gets settled and finds a job, the amount that she pays toward her rent will go up and the value of her voucher will go down. If she is able to achieve housing stability, she might even be in a position to become a homeowner.
Sheila Crowley, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.