Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, announced $2,119,900 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expand affordable housing vouchers in Birmingham. The funds, which were awarded to the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD), are designed to expand housing choices for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families with children by increasing access to opportunity neighborhoods with high-performing schools, access to jobs, low crime rates, parks, and other amenities.
“I am thrilled to share that Birmingham has been awarded over $2.1 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to expand affordable housing choices,” said Rep. Sewell. “That means more stability and greater economic mobility for Birmingham’s children. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for continuing to invest in our children and families!”
This program is based on HUD’s Community Choice Demonstration program that builds upon recent research that shows growing up in neighborhoods with lower poverty levels improves children’s academic achievement and long-term chances of success and reduces intergenerational poverty. Children who move to low-poverty neighborhoods have also been shown to experience lower rates of hospitalizations, lower hospital spending, and some changes in mental health over the long-term follow-up. Adults given the chance to move to low-poverty neighborhoods experience reductions in obesity and diabetes.
While the HCV program currently offers families with vouchers the opportunity to live in a neighborhood of their choice (including low-poverty, opportunity neighborhoods), families with HCVs may continue to encounter barriers to using their vouchers in communities with expanded opportunities. Common barriers include the inability to save enough money for a security deposit, inadequate time to find a unit, landlord unwillingness to rent to voucher holders, or limited awareness of neighborhood amenities, such as the location of high-performing schools.
The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Services Program will support Public Housing Agencies (PHA) in addressing barriers to accessing housing choices by offering mobility-related services to increase the number of voucher families with children living in opportunity areas. In addition to offering mobility-related services, PHAs will work together in their regions to adopt administrative policies that further enable housing mobility, increase landlord participation, and reduce barriers for families to move across PHA jurisdictions through portability.