Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Still at the Back of the Line? Housing Assistance for Minority Households with Children

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 1:30 PM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sandra Newman and C. Scott Holupka, Johns Hopkins University
This paper examines the characteristics of federally assisted housing developments and neighborhoods of minority and non-minority families with children.  A major focus of previous research on minorities in assisted housing has focused on the siting of public housing in racially segregated, very high poverty neighborhoods (e.g., the Gautreaux and Thompson class action lawsuits), not on the allocation of housing units within the assisted housing system itself.   In earlier exploratory work, Newman and Schnare (1993) found suggestive evidence of differential placement of minority and majority families in different types of assisted housing, with minority families placed in poorer quality units and neighborhoods.  This raises serious concerns about the healthy development of children and the economic opportunities and safe living environments of parents.  The current paper updates and considerably expands on this earlier work.

We use a unique database, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics-Assisted Housing Database (PSID-AHD), in which we matched over 250,000 PSID addresses from 1968 to 2009  to addresses of assisted housing across the U.S.  Data on assisted housing come from HUD administrative records and cover public housing, other project based assisted housing (including both HUD programs and the U.S. Treasury’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program), and Section 8 vouchers.   The panel nature of the PSID-AHD and its rich measures on families and children allow us to study changes over the last four decades, the dynamics of the placement process and how it affects children and parents.  We have further enriched the PSID-AHD with measures of local school quality, crime, and labor market conditions, providing strong markers of neighborhood quality and opportunity.

We observe a more even distribution of black households with children across the three types of assisted housing (public housing, privately-owned, federally assisted housing, and vouchers) in the 1990 and 2000 decades compared with earlier decades.  We also find no evidence that more disadvantaged black households with children are living in one type of assisted housing versus another (e.g., public housing v. voucher).  More sobering, however, is that across the three programs, blacks living in assisted housing reside in lower quality neighborhoods with roughly twice the poverty rates and a substantially higher unemployment rate than non-blacks.   Beyond these basic descriptive results, the paper will also present findings on the effects of assisted housing residence on black households with children including educational attainment, labor force participation, and welfare receipt.