More Than Shelter

In April of this year, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority opened its waiting list for what officially are called “housing choice vouchers” but are commonly known as Section 8 vouchers.

They allow a person living in poverty to move to an apartment or a house and rent at the same government-subsidized rate as someone living in public housing. (The tenant pays 30 percent of income, generally an average of about $200 to $300 a month; the rest is subsidized. The average subsidy is about $700 a month, but varies depending upon the number of bedrooms.)

In the hierarchy of government-subsidized public housing, vouchers are prized. Public housing communities — and they are communities ­— nevertheless come with a stigma, with density, lack of privacy and all the issues created by packing people in hardship into several blocks of a neighborhood systemically drained of investment.