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Report  | September 2020

The Benefits of Converting HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program to an EBT System

By Nam D. Pham, Ph.D., Mary Donovan, and Cassandra Brzezinski

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which provides rental assistance to low- and moderate-income households in need, does not reach its full potential due to operating system inefficiencies and challenges which discourage housing providers from participation. If the HCV program can optimize efficiency, it can better serve current beneficiaries and provide assistance to more families in need. By changing the voucher to an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system similar to the USDA SNAP program, it would become more efficient and attract more housing providers to participate in the program. Since these two programs share similar characteristics and operating structures, we estimated and applied the positive impacts of the SNAP EBT system to estimate the benefits of implementing EBT for the HCV program.