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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Gentrification
  • Volume 18, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Vouchers and Neighborhood Distress: The Unrealized Potential for Families With Housing Choice Vouchers To Reside in Neighborhoods With Low Levels of Distress

Alex Schwartz
The New School

Kirk McClure
University of Kansas

Lydia B. Taghavi
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Refereed Papers
Refereed papers that appear in Cityscape have undergone a thorough and timely double-blind review by highly qualified referees. The managing editor reviews submitted manuscripts or outlines of proposed papers to determine their suitability for inclusion in this section. To submit a manuscript or outline, send an e-mail to cityscape@hud.gov.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. government.

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program seeks to help poor households locate in high-opportunity neighborhoods, but experts have reached little agreement on how to define high opportunity. Using low poverty as the sole criterion has proven ineffective. We offer an alternative metric to assess the level of distress in neighborhoods using multiple measures of neighborhood condition. With this new metric, we examine the extent to which female-headed families with children who have housing choice vouchers reside in census tracts with varying levels of distress by comparison with the availability of affordable rental housing. We find that HCV families are underrepresented in the least-distressed neighborhoods. The problem is especially acute among Black and Hispanic households.

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