On Wednesday, President Trump announced a new budget proposal and, as with any new budget, there are winners and losers. A proposed $6 billion cut – or 13% of the department’s overall budget – puts the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) into the latter. While these cuts will impact several of HUD’s programs, there are two standouts: the elimination of the Community Development Block Program (CDBG), and the $3 billion – or 8% – cut to the Section 8 rental assistant program. While it is difficult to know who directly benefits from CDBG funding, since they are used to fund a variety of projects from housing and infrastructure to economic development and property acquisition, there is a wealth of data from the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (CPS) on where and who benefits from Section 8 programs. We find that young, urban and African-American households would disproportionately feel the hit from a reduction in Section 8 rental assistance funding.
Using data from the 2016 CPS Annual Social and Economic Supplement, we found that people under the age of 35 make up nearly 60% of voucher holders of Section 8 programs even though they are just 48% of the U.S. population.
When looking at race, about 49% of Section 8 voucher holders are white while 41% are African-American. Though nearly half of voucher holders are white, they make up about 75% of the U.S. population, which means they are underrepresented as voucher holders. On the other hand, African-Americans make up just 13% of the U.S. population, so they are vastly overrepresented as a share of those receiving federal rental assistance. This overrepresentation of African-Americans likely mirror broader socioeconomic disparities between whites and blacks, such as income, homeownership, and education.
Another interesting story emerges when we look at the geographic distribution of where Section 8 voucher holders live. Central city residents – what the CPS-ASEC calls people who live in urban city centers – are overrepresented compared to their U.S. population. Of all voucher holders, about 44% live in central cities, but they only make up about 28% of the population. On the other hand, suburbanites are underrepresented. About 31% of voucher holders live in the suburbs but make up about 45% of the U.S. population. Finally, rural residents are about proportionally represented, making up 14% and 13% of voucher holders and proportion of the U.S. population, respectively.