Pittsburgh Plays God With Poor Folks. Feds and State Leave Them No Choice.

Two Pittsburgh omeless people stretched out under covers on park bench
Pittsburgh Homeless photo by daveynin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Which of two Pittsburg homeless has a section 8 housing voucher in their pocket? Quite possibly both. Landlords won't accept vouchers, so their only use is insulation against the cold.

Which of the following statements makes sense?

Tax the poor, who have virtually nothing, by using Section 8 vouchers to build housing that other poor people will one day be able to afford.


Convert unusable Section 8 vouchers (which are nothing but worthless monopoly money since landlords won’t accept them) into funds to build housing that poor other people will one day be able to afford?1

Answer: Neither makes any sense at all, and: both of the above are effectively the same statement.

Consider Pittsburgh’s dilemma as it tries to make the best of a program created by remote higher levels of government. It’s something only the US Federal Government and/or the State of Pennsylvania can properly answer to, as they have created an underfunded housing welfare program without an absolute requirement that landlords also participate.

Pittsburgh is far from the only US city facing this dilemma. This is Pittsburgh’s somewhat controversial solution.

Read more in PUBLICSOURCE: Pittsburgh’s Housing Authority Is Spending Millions In Section 8 Voucher Funds To Build Affordable Housing


  1. For an explanation of Section 8 vouchers, and other efforts in Pittsburgh to improve the effectiveness of Section 8 vouchers, see: Billie Vaughn Breaks Down Barriers to American Affordable Housing