What does this
This indicator reports the
length of the waiting lists for the two major publicly funded
housing programs for low-income individuals and families.
Conventional public housing consists of apartment buildings,
townhouse developments, and, to a much lesser extent, single-family
homes owned and managed by a local housing authority. The
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) gives vouchers to
low-income families, enabling them to rent apartments or houses
from private landlords. Both programs are federally funded by
the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but managed
by local housing authorities. The data in this section come
from the Dallas Housing Authority, which covers all of
Dallas County, all fringe cities located at least partially within
Dallas County, as well as Plano and Red Oak.
Why is this indicator
This indicator is important because
it helps quantify the degree to which publicly funded affordable
housing programs for low-income people are meeting the demand for
such housing. Although in common language the term affordable
housing has become synonymous with publicly funded housing,
they are not the same. Affordable housing is any
housing that the tenant or owner can afford. The basis for
publicly funded housing is the fact that many low-income households
cannot afford market-rate housing and still have enough money left
for life’s other necessities, such as food, transportation,
and health care. The HUD affordability standard to determine
affordability is that no more than 30% of household income should
be spent on housing costs. Those families that cannot find
suitable market-rate housing costing less than 30% of their income
have a choice between (a) spending more than 30% of income on
housing costs and (b) trying to obtain publicly funded housing,
which defined as affordable by the HUD standard. Both housing
programs typically require that individuals or families contribute
30% of their income, adjusted for dependents and other deductions,
as rent. Extremely-low-income residents may be asked to pay
10% of unadjusted income or a minimum rent of no more than $50, if
either of these amounts is higher than 30% of adjusted
Of course, affordable housing for low-income
people need not be provided solely through publicly funded
initiatives. However, it is rare to find private housing
developments in decent repair with unsubsidized rents low enough to
be affordable for low-income and extremely-low-income
households. As such, waiting lists for publicly funded
programs provide a reasonable estimate of the unmet demand for
affordable housing for low-income households. In the future,
creative ways will need to be found to meet that demand.
There are two important caveats to note, however, in relying too
heavily on this indicator as a proxy for the demand for low-income
Not everyone in need of affordable housing is on
a waiting list.
Some people in need of affordable housing
are on more than one waiting list.
How are we
The demand for affordable housing in
Dallas far outweighs the supply of available units. The
number of people or households waiting for a conventional public
housing unit is almost 2 times the number of existing units.
In other words, only about one third of the people or households
requesting public housing are living in a public housing
unit. Meanwhile, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly
known as Section 8) has a waiting list equal to approximately the
number of vouchers in use, meaning that only one half of the demand
is being met. The Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) reports the
At the end of 2003, there were slightly more
than 10,000 people or households on the waitlist for Housing Choice
(Section 8) vouchers.
As a result of the overwhelming waitlist and
recent cuts in federal funding, the Dallas Housing Authority has
now suspended the program entirely for new applicants. Since
June 1, 2004, the DHA has not accepted new applications for the
Housing Choice (Section 8) waitlist.
As of March 21, 2006, the (closed) waiting list
for the Housing Choice Voucher Program is 16,341 people or
The number of Housing Choice Vouchers currently
in use is 16,370.
At the end of 2003, there were 6,916 people or
households on the waiting list for public housing
With the closing of the Housing Choice waitlist,
the number of people or households on the waiting list for public
housing has increased to 10,519, outnumbering occupied public
housing units by almost 2 to 1.
This number represents a 432% increase in the
number of people or households on the waiting list for public
housing since 1999.
According to the DHA, the typical length of time
an individual or household remains on the waiting list for public
housing is 2 years. This is one of the shortest wait times in
the nation among housing authorities in large cities. In
cities suffering the worst affordable housing crunches, waitlists
approach 10 years, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.