Reforming Housing Assistance to Better Respond to Recipient Needs
This paper reviews evidence on the effectiveness of the three main federal vehicles for providing housing assistance to low-income families, lays out current challenges and potential improvements to each program, and proposes further research to fully inform future policy initiatives. Changes are recommended for current federal housing assistance programs to more effectively serve people living in poverty. These include improving how programs take into account regional and state-level variations in the cost and availability of housing, reassessing the level and duration of assistance and to whom it should be targeted, and broadening the set of homes available to recipients of housing assistance beyond those located in areas that are low-income and predominantly Black or Hispanic.
Rent Regulation for the 21st Century: Pairing Anti-Gouging with Targeted Subsidies
Rent regulation is designed to protect low-income renters against sudden rent increases that threaten their housing stability. However, market distortions and the lack of means testing or targeting limit the effectiveness of many rent regulation systems. This policy brief outlines an approach combining anti-gouging regulations with shallow, targeted subsidies to maximize the benefits of rent regulation for low-income households.
How to Address Homelessness: Reflections from Research
In the latest issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Katherine O’Regan, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Sophie House surveyed existing research–including several articles in the special, homlessness-focused volume of The ANNALS in which their commentary was published–that tackles the question of how to prevent and eradicate homelessness in the United States. The review highlights how new research developments can facilitate a shift towards "upstream," or preventative, homelessness interventions, while making necessary "downstream" emergency services more equitable and effective. With a critical eye toward the creation and perpetuation of racial disparities, the article examines four categories of policy responses: addressing root causes, preventing homelessness, providing services, and facilitating sustained exits from homelessness.
Rent Payments in a Pandemic: Analysis of Affordable Housing in New York City
In partnership with the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) and its members, as well as with feedback and support from the Housing Crisis Research Collaborative, the Furman Center compiled a novel data set of detailed information on rent charges and payments at the tenant level. Using these data, this report examines how rent payments and rental arrears (accumulated rent owed) changed for tenants residing in this sample provided by affordable housing owners and managers.
Learning from Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: Lessons from Fifteen Case Studies
In January 2021, the Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP), the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), and the NYU Furman Center released the results of a survey of 220 COVID-19 rental assistance programs. The survey examined key characteristics of these programs and explore how certain characteristics correlated with programs’ ability to efficiently distribute funds. Through 15 in-depth case studies, this brief tells the story of how several programs evolved over time, and the rich learning that occurred in each jurisdiction. The 15 rental assistance programs chosen represent jurisdictions ranging from small and rural to large and urban for in-depth structured interviews. The brief focuses on the key challenges these program administrators discussed, the innovative strategies they used to address these challenges, and the lessons current and future program administrators can take away.
Advancing Racial Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
The NYU Furman Center, together with the Housing Initiative at Penn and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, recently co-authored a report describing these “first-generation” COVID rental assistance programs, based on a survey of 220 programs across the country. This brief draws upon the analysis from that survey, along with additional document review and interviews with selected program administrators. Based on these sources, the brief highlights several lessons about strategies states and localities can use to design and implement more equitable emergency rental assistance programs.
COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance: Analysis of a National Survey of Programs
The report examines program decisions against outcome metrics, such as a ratio of actual number of applicants to expected number of applicants and funds obligated as a share of total program funds. A survey launched in August 2020, and ran through October 2020, collecting information from program administrators, many of whom provided follow-up responses to requests for outcome data in December 2020 and January 2021.
Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America
Housing affordability continues to be a major concern for residents across the country. In this report, the authors look at what local governments can do to mitigate rising costs of rental housing in the U.S. The report reviews the root causes of high rent burdens and the consequences, including the impact of housing choice vouchers and modest increases in income. It also discusses why housing costs rise, looking more closely at housing markets and the factors that contribute to rising rent burdens. The report then reviews government policy responses at the local, state, and federal level before laying out a framework that municipalities can use to help provide citizens affordable housing options. It serves as a helpful tool for local officials considering new housing strategies or those interesting in improving existing policies.
A Renter Safety Net: A Call for Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
For decades, escalating housing costs have outpaced income growth for middle- and lower-income earners. As a result, millions of American households struggle to accumulate a savings buffer with the little income they have leftover after paying rent, and are therefore left vulnerable to evictions or forced moves when unexpected financial shocks occur. In this chapter, authors Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, Amy Ganz, Deputy Director of the Economic Strategy Group, and Katherine O’Regan, Professor of Public Policy and Planning at NYU Wagner and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, document the costly externalities that such housing instability poses and propose the creation of a Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide one-time, short-term financial help to low-income renters who face unexpected financial shocks.
Early Evidence on Eviction Patterns after the rollout of NYC’s Universal Access to Counsel
One of the primary eviction prevention measures jurisdictions across the country have taken is to expand access to free legal counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. In 2017, New York City became the first jurisdiction to enact “Universal Access to Counsel” (UAC), guaranteeing free legal representation to all low-income tenants facing eviction in the City’s housing courts. Research, however, has yet to rigorously evaluate claims either defending and criticizing UAC. This paper aims to address this gap by examining the effectiveness of legal representation in preventing evictions in the private rental market.