Housing Choice Vouchers in Sonoma

Housing Choice Vouchers have been studied in urban settings, but rarely in suburban and rural areas, such as Sonoma County. This project is a unique opportunity to study the impact of a Housing Choice Voucher on a wide array of outcomes – from criminal justice to physical health – in a suburban and rural setting.


California currently faces a housing affordability crisis and many households are facing homelessness. Housing Choice Vouchers (previously known as Section 8), which provide a rental subsidy to eligible individuals and families, are one strategy used to address this crisis. In 2019, Sonoma County substantially changed its system for offering vouchers.  The county transitioned to a lottery-based system in order to streamline the waitlist process and improve access to vouchers across demographic groups.

Research Project

CPL is partnering with Sonoma County to study whether access to housing through the Housing Choice Voucher program increases or decreases reliance on other public services, such as behavioral and emergency health services, social safety net programs, and contact with the criminal justice system. Through this project, CPL is evaluating the relationship between housing and future social and economic mobility, health, and well-being. 

To estimate the impact of the program, CPL will leverage the random selection of voucher recipients through a lottery and linked administrative data from eight agencies providing services to low-income residents of Sonoma County. 

Research Team

Professor Michael Lens (Co-Principal Investigator), Dr. Johanna Lacoe (Co-Principal Investigator), Alan Perez, Jennifer Hogg



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