I am a graduate student at the University of California, studying the transition in federal housing policy from traditional public housing to housing choice vouchers. I study the locational outcomes of tenants moving between these programs, the social consequences attached to their movement, and the broader public discourse around the voucher program and its participants.
This site holds my curriculum vitae, information about my academic work, and information about a dataset on Housing Choice Vouchers that I am working to make available for public use.
Kurwa, R. (2015), Deconcentration without Integration: Examining the Social Outcomes of Housing Choice Voucher Movement in Los Angeles County. City & Community, 14: 364–391. doi: 10.1111/cico.12134 (link)
This article reports on the social experiences of tenants moving from low-income neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles to a racially mixed, lower poverty suburb—the Antelope Valley—using Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. Voucher tenants experience significant social exclusion and aggressive oversight. Local residents use racial shorthand to label their black neighbors as voucher holders and apply additional scrutiny to their activity. They aggressively report voucher tenants to the housing authority and police, instigating inspections that threaten tenants’ voucher status. Tenants react to these circumstances by withdrawing from their communities in order to avoid scrutiny and protect their status in the program. These findings illustrate that the social difficulties documented in mixed-income developments may also exist in voucher programs, highlight the ways in which neighborhood effects may be extended to include social experiences, and suggest the limits of the voucher program to translate geographic mobility into socioeconomic progress.
Vita:Rahim Kurwa CV