Say someone gave you a gift card for $50 to buy food at any grocery store of your choice. You could take it to Aldi and clean up with a pile of boxed and frozen dinners. Or, you could take it to Whole Foods and buy approximately one bundle of asparagus. Unless your fridge is already heavily stocked, you’re probably going to hit the Aldi, even if that means bringing home a haul of cheap, sub-quality food.
Such is the dilemma of the Section 8 housing-voucher program, which assists people with low incomes by giving them coupons that cover a portion of their rents. For a number of reasons, those vouchers are most frequently used in neighborhoods where poverty is fiercest and rent is cheapest. Using vouchers in higher-rent communities is a non-starter for many low-income tenants because that would mean extra housing expenses they’d have to cover out of pocket.