Individual Shortcomings or Structural Effects? Examining the Determinants of Exiting Public Housing
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
A constant debate between politicians, researchers, and community activists centers on the inability of individuals to escape poverty. However, the debate between these different actors focuses on the effects of such stints in poverty rather than the causes of longer durations of time. As a result, certain governmental programs targeted at the poor often attract discontent and extreme backlash in the media and in the political arena, especially when the poor use temporary social programs for extended amounts of time. From its beginning in 1937, public housing has served as a federal initiative to provide temporary housing targeted at individuals experiencing economic hardships. Yet, the duration of individuals utilizing public housing, even in this modern day when the government has shifted towards subsidizing individuals rather than providing subsidized housing itself, is still of major concern. Although many federal housing policies have shifted from placed-based to people-based strategies, many individuals remain in public housing for extended lengths of time. By effectively committing residents to specific places, public housing may impact the ability of individuals to access economic opportunity and achieve self-sufficiency. This paper analyzes the determinants of tenure duration among public housing residents. Using a sample from the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics between 1986 to 2011, this paper seeks to test both individual and structural arguments around poverty spells and housing assistance. Using an event history analysis, this project will identify the effects of individual characteristics, local economic conditions as well as housing market factors on the likelihood of individuals to move out of public housing altogether. This inquiry of public housing sheds light on policies to demolish it in the place of housing vouchers as well as the contention for the program altogether.