A Different Type of Housing Crisis: Allocating Costs Fairly and Encouraging Landlord Participation in Section 8

By Sterken, Krista | Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

A Different Type of Housing Crisis: Allocating Costs Fairly and Encouraging Landlord Participation in Section 8


Sterken, Krista, Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems


The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program ("Section 8") is an important effort to make quality housing accessible to low-income families. Although the federal program is voluntary, several states, cities, and local communities have responded to the problem of landlord rejection of Section 8 tenants with laws prohibiting discrimination based on a prospective tenant's source-of-income. Mandatory Section 8 facilitates the program's success but also raises significant equity issues when individual landlords face unusually high burdens as a result of mandated participation. Further, mandatory participation undermines incentives to implement an efficient program because it removes the need to attract voluntary participants. As such, an exception is a necessary and desirable complement to a mandatory Section 8 scheme. An exception could be constructed as a statutory exemption or affirmative defense, or created through a play-or-pay approach. Finally, encouraging rather than coercing landlord participation offers significant advantages in achieving the program's objectives and is an important balance to mandated participation.

I. INTRODUCTION

The recent financial crisis has spurred calls for reform and greater accountability in housing. Although the present focus may be on sub-prime loans and foreclosures, our country also faces another type of housing crisis: a profound lack of affordable housing. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program ("Section 8") addresses this dilemma by distributing government rent subsidies to qualifying families. Although the federal program is voluntary, several states and cities have passed laws prohibiting landlord discrimination against Section 8 recipients. These laws eliminate landlords' ability to refuse Section 8 vouchers, effectively mandating their Section 8 participation within their jurisdictions. These laws raise the issue of whether compulsion, without exception, is the most equitable and effective way to achieve important social goals.

In the context of affordable housing, compulsion is an equitable and effective way to achieve societal goals. However, the importance of providing affordable housing must be balanced against the fairness issues that mandated Section 8 participation raises. To achieve a balance, this Note proposes a hardship exception for certain landlords as a necessary complement to mandatory Section 8 participation. Second, this Note questions mandatory landlord participation in Section 8 and considers the advantages of relying on incentives.

Part II introduces the Section 8 program, including the program's goals, structure, and challenges. Part III provides an overview of the laws that prohibit discrimination based on source-of-income, effectively mandating landlord participation in Section 8 by prohibiting them from treating Section 8 recipients differently. Part IV argues that fairness requires some exception to mandated Section 8 participation for landlords facing an undue burden when compelled to accept Section 8 vouchers. Part V contemplates whether the judiciary or legislature is the appropriate body to implement an exception, and poses possible constructions of this exception. Finally, Part VI suggests that efforts to increase landlord participation in Section 8 should focus on incentives rather than coercion. Although an exception to mandatory Section 8 participation cures significant equity issues, a mandate still may not be the best way to increase affordable housing options. Communities should consider steps to strengthen the appeal of Section 8 to landlords before resorting to compelled participation.

II. INTRODUCTION TO SECTION 8

Even as incomes fail to keep pace with housing costs, there has been a significant decrease in efforts to provide affordable housing.1 In 2007, approximately 17.9 million U.S. households were "severely" cost-burdened because of housing costs, meaning they paid over half their income just toward housing.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Different Type of Housing Crisis: Allocating Costs Fairly and Encouraging Landlord Participation in Section 8
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.