Roundtable: Do Work Requirements for Public Housing Residents Move People to Work?
(Housing and Community Development)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Burnham (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Diane K Levy, Urban Institute
Moderators:  Susan Popkin, Urban Institute
Speakers:  Diane K Levy, Urban Institute, Barbara Sard, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Mary Howard, The Chicago Housing Authority and William M. Rohe, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The government began imposing work requirements on some beneficiaries of federal programs in the 1990s. Today, TANF and SNAP programs have requirements in place and, during the recent debate over the now-failed American Health Care Act (AHCA), Congress considered work requirements for working age adults who receive Medicaid benefits. HUD Secretary Carson and Congressional leaders have stated their intent to expand work requirements for federal housing assistance programs. As of late 2015, only public housing agencies (PHAs) with Moving to Work (MTW) designation had instituted work requirement policies. MTW, initiated in 1996, allows select PHAs to develop and test innovative approaches to achieving administrative and program cost efficiencies, household self-sufficiency, and housing choice goals. Among the 39 MTW agencies, only nine had policies in place. The interest in expanding work requirements is not necessarily based on evidence; there has been limited research on MTW policies’ details, characteristics of households affected by the policies, differences across federal assistance programs’ work requirement policies that affect housing-assisted families, or the effectiveness of the requirements on employment and earnings. Analyses are beginning to shed light on variations in work requirements across PHAs, overlaps in work requirement policies, and policy effects. The picture coming into focus includes the following components: • some PHAs only implement a work policy for working-age residents of public housing developments or for voucher holders • details of work requirement policies vary considerably on what counts as a work activity, work hour requirements, work-related service provision, and policy enforcement • the percent of affected households is less than what policymakers might envision due to existing employment rates and the number of elderly and disabled households • agencies that have found positive effects on household employment rates have seen negligible effects on household income Roundtable participants include policy researchers and practitioners who will draw on their work to discuss these and other emergent findings, including what we know about the estimated proportion of housing-assisted families affected by overlapping requirements from TANF and SNAP programs.

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