Moving to Location Affordability? Housing Choice Vouchers and Residential Relocation in the Portland, Oregon, Region

Document Type


Published In

Housing Policy Debate

Publication Date



Low-income housing -- Oregon -- Portland, Housing policy, Public housing -- Oregon -- Portland


Location affordability measures a household’s combined cost of housing and transportation. Low-income households have the most to gain from housing with lower transportation costs. This research analyzes whether Housing Choice Voucher Program households—participants in a program designed to provide low-income households with a greater degree of housing choice—are able to choose housing that lowers their transportation costs in a metropolitan region with a compact, vital urban core. A mixed-methods approach is used to investigate the differences in location affordability and efficiency among 2,026 voucher recipients who moved within the Portland, Oregon, region during 2012–2013. Location mattered to movers, but in some unexpected ways. Urban movers relocated to less location efficient areas, whereas suburban movers’ location efficiency remained stable. In tight housing markets, voucher holders may be edged out of location-efficient neighborhoods and thus incur increased transportation costs.