Public Housing vs. Housing Choice Voucher Program

So what is the difference between the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Public Housing Program? The biggest difference is where the subsidy is tied to. With public housing, the subsidy is tied directly to the unit and project (generally a large multifamily apartment/condo style community). This is a limiting option for most families who wish to seek different types of housing in other neighborhoods.

Alternatively, with the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the subsidy moves with the tenant. This allows families to look for many different unit types in any neighborhood they want.

So Remember:
Public Housing Program = Project/Unit Based Subsidy
Housing Choice Voucher Program = Tenant Based Subsidy

Project Based

  • The units carries the subsidy not the tenant, meaning whomever lives in the unit receives the benefit of the government subsidy
  • You cannot choose the location, instead you are placed in a unit that is available
  • Once the family moves out, the subsidy is potentially lost

Tenant Based

  • The Participant carries the subsidy
  • The Participant can choose the unit and location of the home
  • The PHA will assess the home to ensure that it meets minimum Housing Quality Standards