Earlier this year, HUD posted a report titled “Using Administrative Data to Estimate Success Rates and Search Durations for New Voucher Recipients.” The purpose of the study is to estimate national success rates and evaluate the quality of HUD’s administrative data.
The study finds that “61 percent of searches initiated in 2019 succeeded, using a 180-day search window.” Additionally, “[i]f that timeline [was] extended to 240 days, the estimated success rate [rose] to 63 percent.” The report also discusses how success rates and search durations vary by an area’s rural characterization, a PHA’s regional classification (e.g., located in the Northeast), and a PHA’s size.
The study looks at two metrics to evaluate the data quality. First, it looks at the share of entrances to the program which have a search voucher. The rationale behind examining this metric is that if a PHA is accurately recording data, then it will be recording both the issuance of the voucher and the admission to the program. Similarly, if a PHA is only recording the admission, then the PHA may not be recording unsuccessful searches (i.e., those searches with an issuance, but no admission). To ensure the use of quality data, the study excludes new admissions that are not preceded by a search voucher and only calculates success rates for PHAs with nearly complete issuance data.
The second metric that the study uses to evaluate data quality is the timeline for successful searches. If a PHA admits many participants only a few days after voucher issuance, then it is likely indicative that the PHA is retroactively adding the issuance date at admittance, which may mean failed searches are not tracked. To address this issue, the study does not estimate annual success rates for PHAs that have admitted more than 15 percent of new families within seven days of voucher issuance.
The success rates from this study should not be directly compared to how PHAs calculate success rates as the study examines search events, which might include multiple voucher issuances to a family. Housing agencies may calculate success rates based on each discrete issuance of a voucher.
The full report can be found here.