Naperville's voucher ordinance not wise business move, tax pro says
The tax policy director at the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., doesn't see much of an upside for Naperville landlords being required to accept federal housing vouchers.
“Once you have these big projects that just are filled with Section 8 tenants, it remains sort of fixed in place, and cities are things that should be dynamic, that should change over time, and both public housing and Section 8 tend to freeze structures in place and make people less dynamic,” Chris Edwards told the DuPage Policy Journal.
The Naperville City Council voted to approve the ordinance requiring the acceptance of the vouchers last fall. The meeting featured two hours of debate that involved audience members and ended in a 5-4 vote.
According to Edwards, the federal government spent $30 billion on Section 8 vouchers last year.
Prior to the Naperville ordinance, landlords were barred from rejecting a tenant based on income. Now the landlords must consider federal Housing Choice Vouchers as income. They cannot deny an applicant based on the use of the vouchers, but such an applicant may still be denied based on other rationale, such as credit rating.
According to the DuPage Housing Authority, approximately 500 vouchers are currently being used in Naperville.
“Section 8 tends to concentrate poverty just like public housing does because only certain apartment buildings and landlords will take the Section 8 vouchers,” Edwards said.
Edwards also said private developers as less likely to build new low-income housing if they know there will be a cap on the rent.
“It strikes me that the more sorts of ordinances that the local government imposes, the less private developers are going to want to build low-income housing in the city,” Edwards said. “I think top-down controls from cities on private landlords ends up backfiring.”