Report tracks housing voucher mobility in Illinois

April 22, 2011

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A new study about housing vouchers in Illinois debunks common myths about where voucher-holders choose to locate.

Janet Smith, a housing expert at the University of Illinois-Chicago who worked on the study, said there’s been speculation that former Chicago public housing residents use vouchers to move to central and southern Illinois.

"One of things we wanted to be able to look at here was really – is that true? Not so much to disprove that but to answer the question that a lot of people have – where are people really moving to," Smith said.

Smith's work suggests the myths are false. She said that of the 70,000 voucher households in Illinois, only seven percent have used their vouchers to move from where they originally got their voucher.

She said one barrier to voucher-holders' mobility is the lack of transportation. Voucher-holders may not have automobiles and, if they move outside Chicago, they may have a difficult time visiting friends and relatives they leave behind. Also, other Illinois cities offer fewer public transit options than Chicago.