On April 24, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation released a collection of ten research briefs as part of the How Housing Matters to Families and Communities Initiative. The initiative supports a research network that explores how improving access to stable, high quality housing can promote positive education, employment, and health outcomes for families. Each research brief reviews the methodology for each study, summarizes the key findings, and describes the policy implications of the findings. The research studies were conducted by members of the Foundation’s research network.
Five of the research briefs explore the links between housing and health or other aspects of well-being. A study from Boston College found that poor housing quality, followed by residential instability, were the strongest predictors of behavioral problems among low income children. The study examined five housing characteristics: quality, stability, affordability, ownership, and receipt of a housing subsidy. According to the research, children experiencing cumulative housing instability, or exposed to leaking roofs, broken windows, rodents, peeling paint, non-functioning heaters, or unclean environments experienced greater emotional and behavioral problems.
Three briefs examined the impact of housing on educational outcomes. The RAND Corporation examined eleven inclusionary zoning policies mandating or encouraging developers to set aside a proportion of homes in development projects at below-market rates to serve low and moderate income households. The study found that 44% of the housing created as a result of inclusionary zoning policies was located in areas that had low-poverty, high-performing schools. A study from New York University found that families in assisted housing often had limited access to high-performing schools, and that 25% of housing voucher holders lived near schools ranked in the bottom tenth percentile for their state.
One study examined the effect of having a housing choice voucher on earnings and employment. This five-year study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that annual earnings declined by $600 annually, on average, for families during their first year participating in the voucher program. However, this negative impact disappeared after five years. Further, African American voucher holders earned $450 more annually, on average, than non-voucher holding peers five years after receiving a voucher.
A study of evictions in Milwaukee, WI found that lower income black women were disproportionately impacted by evictions. This study analyzed nearly 30,000 eviction records from Milwaukee County between 2008 and 2007. While women from predominantly black neighborhoods represented only 9.6% of the population in Milwaukee, they represented 30% of all evictions across the city.
The MacArthur Foundation’s research briefs and links to the full studies are available at: http://bit.ly/1nEZHG8