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

Panel Paper: What Happens When a Project­Based Rental Subsidy Ends? Mobility and Academic Outcomes

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Vincent Reina and Gary Painter, University of Southern California
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financed roughly 1.2 million units of housing through the project­-based Section 8 program. In Los Angeles the project-­based Section 8 contract already ended on 330 properties containing over 18,000 units. Nationally, there are over 3,000 properties, containing over 150,000 units, where the project-­based Section 8 subsidy ended.  The number of tenants affected by a subsidy ending will only increase going forward because almost all rental units developed with a federal rental subsidy since the 1970s are owned by private entities that agreed to maintain their property as affordable for a fixed period of time. For example, there are over 50,000 units in properties in Los Angeles alone where an owner is eligible to leave a rental subsidy program, or will be eligible to do so in the near future. This paper identifies the impact that this event, and mobility more broadly, has on the academic outcomes of the youth who live in these properties. The decision to end a project-­based Section 8 contract is an exogenous shock to tenants who live in the property because HUD or the owner, not the household, makes the decision to end the contract.  This event increases a household’s probability of moving and such housing instability may have negative consequences. One such consequence is poorer academic outcomes for youth who live in these properties. This paper examines the relationship between mobility and outcomes using detailed building-­level data for all subsidized properties, including those where a rental subsidy ended, and confidential student­-level data provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) between 2000 and 2014. This paper provides an estimate of the impact that the end of a project­-based rental subsidy has on the welfare of the households in these properties.  Such knowledge improves academics’ and policymakers’ understanding of the costs and benefits of preserving place-based subsidies, and whether existing policy tools provide effective safety nets. This paper also estimates the impact of mobility on academic outcomes more broadly, which is important as policymakers develop tools to decrease the negative effects of housing instability on low-income households.