Do Outcomes for Assisted Housing Residents Depend on Race?

Do Outcomes for Assisted Housing Residents Depend on Race?
Sandra J. Newman, C. Scott Holupka
Housing Policy Debate
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In 2011, more than half of children in assisted housing were black. This study explores whether features of assisted housing, including housing unit and neighborhood quality, differ for black and white families with children. The sample included blacks and whites who spent part of their childhoods in assisted housing in the 2000s, and the authors evaluated outcomes based on educational attainment, employment, and earnings in 2011. The authors used special data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) that they address-matched to federally assisted housing, the PSID Transition to Adulthood Supplement, and geocode-matched data from the US Census Bureau, the American Community Survey, and CoreLogic real estate data in their analysis. After seeing few systematic racial differences between public housing, multifamily, and vouchers, the authors combined all programs into one assisted housing variable. The analysis shows that black and white households with children have comparable access to the three assisted housing programs with similar physical conditions and neighborhood quality. The study contributes to research focused on addressing socioeconomic inequality through intergenerational policy and progress.

Key findings

  • The historical disparities in the type of assisted housing occupied by black versus white households with children largely disappeared by the 2000s.
  • There is no evidence of racial differences in the physical quality of project-based assisted housing or in the management of public housing.
  • Black households with children are more likely to live in assisted housing in poor-quality neighborhoods compared with their white counterparts.
  • Worse outcomes of black young adults compared with whites disappears when socioeconomic differences are taken into account.
  • The discrepancy in assisted housing neighborhood quality experienced by black and white children doesn’t predict young adult outcomes.