The Rent Reform Demonstration: Early Effects on Employment and Housing Subsidies
The purpose of the Rent Reform Demonstration is to test an alternative to the current rent-setting system for families using housing choice vouchers (HCV). The goals of the alternative rent-setting model now being tested are to incentivize employment and reduce the complexity and burden (and, thus, the cost) of administering the rent policy, while not causing unnecessary hardship for HCV households. The demonstration began enrolling voucher holders in 2015 and is operating in four cities at four local Moving to Work (MTW) public housing agencies (PHAs) sites with 6,600 participating HCV assisted households using a rigorous random assignment design. The four participating PHAs are the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Authority, Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Authority. The current report presents early results (covering more 12 to 18 months of followup) on the new rent policy’s effects, or “impacts,” on household heads’ labor market and housing-related outcomes. (A companion report that presents findings covering 27 to 30 months of follow-up, “Interim Findings,” is being released under its own cover.) The results indicate that, when the findings for all four PHAs are combined, the new policy generated a small statistically significant increase in heads of household’s quarterly employment rate. When findings for all of the PHAs except Washington, DC are combined, there is a small statistically significant increase in both quarterly employment rates and Year 1 average annual earnings. The story, however, varied substantially across locations. There were some positive effects on earnings in Lexington, on earnings and employment in San Antonio, but not in Louisville and Washington, D.C. The report also presents other early effects on housing subsidies, tenure in the voucher program, PHA administrative actions, and some preliminary subgroup findings.
Revised Posting Date: May 13, 2020