Taking Stock: What Drives Landlord Participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Philip M.E. Garboden, Eva Rosen, Stefanie DeLuca, Kathryn Edin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


To succeed, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program must be attractive to rental property owners. When landlords refuse to accept subsidized renters, lease-up rates decline, administrative costs increase, and options become limited to high-poverty neighborhoods where owners are most desperate. This article examines what motivates landlords’ decisions to accept subsidized tenants. We use 127 interviews with a random and field sample of landlords, combined with administrative data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on property ownership in Baltimore, Maryland, Dallas, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio. We find that landlords’ perspectives on the HCV program, including rents, tenants, and inspections, are highly dependent on context; landlords weigh the costs and benefits of program participation against the counterfactual tenant that a landlord might otherwise rent to in the open market. We argue that policymakers can boost landlord participation by better understanding how landlords think about their alternatives within each local context. Finally, we consider what drives nonparticipation in the program. Our results show that the majority of landlords who refuse voucher holders had accepted them previously. We suggest that policy reform should be dually focused on improving bureaucratic inefficiencies that deter landlord participation, and providing training and education to landlords.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-1003
Number of pages25
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
  • rental housing
  • vouchers


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