Housing

  • Matthew Desmond
  • Rebecca Diamond

Leaders: Matthew Desmond, Rebecca Diamond

The Housing RG is tasked with exploring the the inner workings of disadvantaged neighborhoods and the low-cost housing market, with a focus on (a) the relationship between housing, employment, and poverty, (b) the causes, dynamics, and consequences of eviction, and (c) the effectiveness of housing vouchers and other housing programs. A sampling of our ongoing projects follows.

Evictions and poverty: Are evictions an important cause of deep and extreme poverty? In collaboration with Raj Chetty, Matt Desmond is starting a project on the long-term consequences of eviction that will reveal the extent to which deep and extreme poverty can be reduced with a “housing first” policy that ramps up federal housing programs.

Housing voucher policy: The U.S. currently spends approximately $20 billion per year on subsidized housing vouchers, but 80 percent of these vouchers are used in moderate- or high-poverty neighborhoods, where opportunities for upward mobility are typically limited. Can voucher policies be recast to increase the number of families moving to “high opportunity” neighborhoods?

Housing - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Neighborhood Effect Heterogeneity by Family Income and Developmental Period Geoffrey T. Wodtke, Felix Elwert, David Harding

Neighborhood Effect Heterogeneity by Family Income and Developmental Period

Author: Geoffrey T. Wodtke, Felix Elwert, David Harding
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 01/2016

Effects of disadvantaged neighborhoods on child educational outcomes likely depend on a family’s economic resources and the timing of neighborhood exposures during the course of child development. This study investigates how timing of exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods during childhood versus adolescence affects high school graduation and whether these effects vary across families with different income levels. It follows 6,137 children in the PSID from childhood through adolescence and overcomes methodological problems associated with the joint endogeneity of neighborhood context and family income by adapting novel counterfactual methods—a structural nested mean model estimated via two-stage regression with residuals—for time-varying treatments and time-varying effect moderators. Results indicate that exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods, particularly during adolescence, has a strong negative effect on high school graduation and that this negative effect is more severe for children from poor families.

Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Among Former Prisoners Claire W. Herbert , Jeffrey D. Morenoff , David Harding

Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Among Former Prisoners

Author: Claire W. Herbert , Jeffrey D. Morenoff , David Harding
Publisher: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Date: 11/2015

The United States has experienced dramatic increases in both incarceration rates and the population of insecurely housed or homeless persons since the 1980s. These marginalized populations have strong overlaps, with many people being poor, minority, and from an urban area. That a relationship between homelessness, housing insecurity, and incarceration exists is clear, but the extent and nature of this relationship is not yet adequately understood. We use longitudinal, administrative data on Michigan parolees released in 2003 to examine returning prisoners’ experiences with housing insecurity and homelessness. Our analysis finds relatively low rates of outright homelessness among former prisoners, but very high rates of housing insecurity, much of which is linked to features of community supervision, such as intermediate sanctions, returns to prison, and absconding. We identify risk factors for housing insecurity, including mental illness, substance use, prior incarceration, and homelessness, as well as protective “buffers” against insecurity and homelessness, including earnings and social supports.

Neighborhood Effects on Use of African-American Vernacular English John R. Rickford, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Ray Yun Gou, Rebecca Greene, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C. Kessler, Jeffrey R. Kling, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, Andres E. Sanchez-Ordoñez, Matthew Sciandra, Ewart Thomas, Jens Ludwig

Neighborhood Effects on Use of African-American Vernacular English

Author: John R. Rickford, Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Ray Yun Gou, Rebecca Greene, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C. Kessler, Jeffrey R. Kling, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, Andres E. Sanchez-Ordoñez, Matthew Sciandra, Ewart Thomas, Jens Ludwig
Publisher: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date: 09/2015

African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is systematic, rooted in history, and important as an identity marker and expressive resource for its speakers. In these respects, it resembles other vernacular or nonstandard varieties, like Cockney or Appalachian English. But like them, AAVE can trigger discrimination in the workplace, housing market, and schools. Understanding what shapes the relative use of AAVE vs. Standard American English (SAE) is important for policy and scientific reasons. This work presents, to our knowledge, the first experimental estimates of the effects of moving into lower-poverty neighborhoods on AAVE use. We use data on non-Hispanic African-American youth (n = 629) from a large-scale, randomized residential mobility experiment called Moving to Opportunity (MTO), which enrolled a sample of mostly minority families originally living in distressed public housing. Audio recordings of the youth were transcribed and coded for the use of five grammatical and five phonological AAVE features to construct a measure of the proportion of possible instances, or tokens, in which speakers use AAVE rather than SAE speech features. Random assignment to receive a housing voucher to move into a lower-poverty area (the intention-to-treat effect) led youth to live in neighborhoods (census tracts) with an 11 percentage point lower poverty rate on average over the next 10–15 y and reduced the share of AAVE tokens by ∼3 percentage points compared with the MTO control group youth. The MTO effect on AAVE use equals approximately half of the difference in AAVE frequency observed between youth whose parents have a high school diploma and those whose parents do not.

Housing Tax and Transfer Programs Decrease Inequality Gregory Acs, Paul Johnson

Housing Tax and Transfer Programs Decrease Inequality

Author: Gregory Acs, Paul Johnson
Publisher: The Urban Institute
Date: 08/2015

We examine the relationships between housing subsidies, the mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions, and income inequality and find that housing subsidies to low-income families reduce income inequality while the mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions increase it. On net, the distribution of post-tax, post-transfer income is slightly more equal than it would be in the absence of these three programs.

The E ffects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Lawrence F. Katz

The E ffects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment

Author: Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Lawrence F. Katz
Publisher:
Date: 08/2015

The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment offered randomly selected families living in high-poverty housing projects housing vouchers to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods. We present new evidence on the impacts of MTO on children's long-term outcomes using administrative data from tax returns. We find that moving to a lower-poverty neighborhood signicantly improves college attendance rates and earnings for children who were young (below age 13) when their families moved. These children also live in better neighborhoods themselves as adults and are less likely to become single parents. The treatment effects are substantial: children whose families take up an experimental voucher to move to a lower-poverty area when they are less than 13 years old have an annual income that is $3,477 (31%) higher on average relative to a mean of $11,270 in the control group in their mid-twenties. In contrast, the same moves have, if anything, negative long-term impacts on children who are more than 13 years old when their families move, perhaps because of the disruption effects of moving to a very dierent environment. The gains from moving fall with the age when children move, consistent with recent evidence that the duration of exposure to a better environment during childhood is a key determinant of an individual's long-term outcomes. The findings imply that offering vouchers to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods to families with young children who are living in high-poverty housing projects may reduce the intergenerational persistence of poverty and ultimately generate positive returns for taxpayers.

housing - CPI Affiliates

Robert Haveman's picture Robert Haveman Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Economics, Faculty Affiliate, Institute for Research on Poverty
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thomas McDade's picture Thomas McDade Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research; Director, Laboratory of Human Biology Research
Northwestern University
Lisa Sanbonmatsu Senior Researcher
NBER

Pages

Housing - Other Research

Title Author Media
Dynamics of Urban Neighborhood Reciprocity: Latino Peer Ties, Violence and the Navigation of School Failure and Success Maria G. Rendon

Dynamics of Urban Neighborhood Reciprocity: Latino Peer Ties, Violence and the Navigation of School Failure and Success

Author: Maria G. Rendon
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 04/2015
Health Selection into Neighborhoods Among Families in the Moving to Opportunity Program Mariana C. Arcaya, Corina Graif, Mary C. Waters, S. V. Subramanian

Health Selection into Neighborhoods Among Families in the Moving to Opportunity Program

Author: Mariana C. Arcaya, Corina Graif, Mary C. Waters, S. V. Subramanian
Publisher: American Journal of Epidemiology
Date: 03/2015

Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing was a randomized experiment that moved very low-income US families from high-poverty neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods starting in the early 1990s. We modeled report of a child's baseline health problem as a predictor of neighborhood outcomes for households randomly assigned to move from high- to low-poverty neighborhoods. We explored associations between baseline health problems and odds of moving with the program upon randomization (1994–1997), neighborhood poverty rate at follow-up (2002), and total time spent in affluent neighborhoods and duration-weighted poverty. Among 1,550 households randomized to low-poverty neighborhoods, a smaller share of households reporting baseline child health problems (P = 0.004) took up the intervention (38%) than those not reporting a health problem (50%). In weighted and covariate-adjusted models, a child health problem predicted nearly 40% lower odds of complying with the experimental condition (odds ratio = 0.62, 95% confidence interval: 0.42, 0.91; P = 0.015). Among compliers, a baseline child health problem predicted 2.5 percentage points' higher neighborhood poverty at take-up (95% confidence interval: 0.90, 4.07; P = 0.002). We conclude that child health problems in a household prior to randomization predicted lower likelihood of using the program voucher to move to a low-poverty neighborhood within the experiment's low-poverty treatment arm and predicted selection into poorer neighborhoods among experimental compliers. Child morbidity may constrain families attempting to improve their life circumstances.

Why Concentrated Poverty Matters Lisa Gennetian , Jens Ludwig , Thomas McDade , Lisa Sanbonmatsu

Why Concentrated Poverty Matters

Author: Lisa Gennetian , Jens Ludwig , Thomas McDade , Lisa Sanbonmatsu
Publisher: Pathways Spring 2013
Date: 07/2013

In 1987 sociologist William Julius Wilson published his influential book The Truly Disadvantaged, which argued that the growing geographic concentration of poor minority families in urban areas contributed to high rates of crime, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed families, and welfare dependency. The exodus of black working- and middle-class families during the 1960s and 1970s from inner-city areas had adverse effects on the poor families left behind in high-poverty areas, Wilson suggested, by eliminating a “social buffer” that helped “keep alive the perception that education is meaningful, that steady employment is a viable alternative to welfare, and that family stability is the norm, not the exception” (p. 49). Our research on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized mobility experiment raises questions about whether Wilson was right about the effects of concentrated poverty on the earnings, welfare receipt, or schooling outcomes of low-income families living in such areas. But MTO suggests concentrated poverty does have extremely important impacts on outcomes not emphasized so much by Wilson – such as physical and mental health.

The Material Well-Being of the Poor and the Middle Class Since 1980 Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan

The Material Well-Being of the Poor and the Middle Class Since 1980

Author: Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan
Publisher: American Enterprise Institute
Date: 10/2011

In this paper, we provide a more accurate assessment of how the material circumstances of the middle class and the poor have changed over the past three decades. We consider several different measures of material well-being. We examine how improved measures of income, which better reflect the resources families have to consume, have changed between 1980 and 2009 for the middle class and the poor, accounting for the overstatement of inflation in standard price indices. Similarly, we analyze patterns of family consumption, which our research suggests is a better indicator of economic well-being than family income. For both middle-class and poor families, we also examine independent indicators of well-being such as housing and car characteristics.

Housing Discrimination in Metropolitan America: Explaining Changes between 1989 and 2000 Stephen L. Ross and Margery Austin Turner

Housing Discrimination in Metropolitan America: Explaining Changes between 1989 and 2000

Author: Stephen L. Ross and Margery Austin Turner
Publisher:
Date: 05/2005

Housing - Multimedia

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