A paper by The Urban Institute, Work Requirements in Public Housing Authorities, examines work requirements for public housing and housing choice voucher (HCVs). The large majority of families receiving housing assistance are disabled or elderly, or they are already working. Work requirements’ potential impact on families’ work effort is therefore likely negligible. The paper’s authors noted a lack of evidence on whether work requirements raise incomes and lift families out of poverty and whether they increase housing instability for vulnerable families. They recommended future research on the consequences of work requirements to inform future policy.
Nine Moving to Work (MTW) public housing authorities (PHAs) have work requirements. These requirements vary across the PHAs, but in general one or more adult household members must work at least 20 hours a week, unless he or she is elderly or disabled. The authors used HUD data to estimate the percentage of households subject to work requirements within these nine housing authorities. The authors assumed that households with Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or Social Security Disability Income as a major source of income were not subject to the requirements, as these are typically elderly or disabled households. They assumed households with Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF), public assistance, or general assistance as their major source of income were subject to the requirements. Based on these assumptions, the percentage of households subject to the work requirements ranged from 1% to 13% of households. A policy that affects such a small share of households would have minimal effects on overall work effort.
Not enough data or evidence currently exists to understand the impacts of work requirements on households. To date, only one published study has evaluated outcomes from work requirements. The study showed that work requirements of the Charlotte Housing Authority, an MTW agency, had modest positive effects on employment, but the authors noted caution in assuming these results could be generalized to all PHAs without further research (See Memo, 10/5/2015).
The authors recommended additional research to inform future policy. HUD should have information on the number of households potentially subject to work requirements, the supports these tenants need to participate in the labor market, and the outcomes of current MTW work requirements. In addition, policy makers must understand how local factors like transportation systems and job market conditions affect the type of services and supports tenants need for employment.
Work Requirements in Public Housing Authorities is available at: http://urbn.is/2mBKRpX