Chile’s New Rental Housing Subsidy and Its Relevance to U.S. Housing Choice Voucher Program Reform

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Date Published 2013
Primary Author Lauren M. Ross
Other Authors Danilo Pelletiere
Theme Housing Finance Subsidies
Country Chile


Although more than one-half of families across South America’s biggest cities cannot afford to buy a proper formal dwelling, national housing strategies throughout the region largely ignore the rental housing sector.1 Until recently, rental housing policy was largely absent throughout South America as governments widely supported homeownership. Amid growing recommendations for rental sector interventions in South America at the start of 2014, Chile was the first country in South America to adopt a national rental subsidy program.2 Chile’s first rental subsidy program aims to make rental housing more affordable to low- and moderate-income young families throughout the country. This article presents an overview of Chile’s rental subsidy program and its relevance for U.S. rental subsidy reform. The article highlights key features of Chile’s new rental subsidy model and its rele- vance for U.S. policy. In particular, Chile’s program consists of a flat-rate, time-limited subsidy that offers a degree of administrative simplicity and payment flexibility for tenants facing income volatility. In the United States, policymakers have flirted with building these program elements into the long- standing Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). Although the Chilean and U.S. rental subsidy models operate within different contexts, as we discuss in the following sections, a close examination of the Chilean implementation and outcomes shows that the Chilean model has the potential to inform U.S. rental housing policy reform.

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