The Displacement of Rural Section 8

Monday, May 8, 2017 | 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Although the Housing Choice Voucher Program (commonly referred to as Section 8) intends to catalyze positive change in the lives of low-income people, it insufficiently recognizes the diverse implications of geography. In theory, Section 8 voucher holders gain increased access to neighborhoods which might be less susceptible to the social, health, and economic issues present in their home communities. The “destination” neighborhoods often have better schools, more jobs, and readily accessible social services.  In recent years, however, diminishing support from the federal government has caused Section 8 participants to shoulder a larger portion of their monthly rent, forcing many to seek out cheaper housing options. As rental rates skyrocket in cities and suburbs across the United States, many Section 8 participants are forced to move to inexpensive housing stock in more rural areas with limited transportation, jobs, and support systems. In many ways the intent of the program is now inhibited by the isolation inherent in rural living. Instead of eradicating the financial and cultural barriers of “moving up”, the Section 8 program is displacing low-income participants to communities that are too far from the resources they need to increase their income and stabilize their lives.


Margaret Kraus , UMass Amherst , Leverett , MA (see bio)