Rental Assistance Can Improve Housing Security in Times of Economic Instability
- Rental Assistance Can Improve Housing Security in Times of Economic Instability
Huiyun Kim, Sarah A. Burgard, Kristin S. Seefeldt
- Publication Date:
During and following economic recessions, labor market instability leads to housing instability as income shocks and increased volatility in income cause missed rent payments. To avoid the cascade of negative outcomes associated with housing instability, policymakers must understand what kinds of support can help families remain stably housed. In this study, researchers examined the association between the receipt of housing assistance and changes in housing insecurity among renters in the Detroit metropolitan area in the wake of the Great Recession.
To conduct the study, researchers analyzed data from the first two waves of the Michigan Recession and Recovery Study (MRRS), a stratified, random sample of working-age adults drawn from the general population of the three counties (Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne) surrounding Detroit. Drawing from interviews conducted between October 2009 and April 2010 and again between April and August of 2011, researchers analyzed the responses of the 400 respondents who identified as renters, classifying respondents as housing insecure if they reported any moves for cost reasons; completed foreclosure; experienced eviction, homelessness, or doubling up with others to share expenses; or were behind on rent. To examine the effects of housing assistance on housing insecurity, researchers compared housing security outcomes between households that received housing assistance (in the form of housing choice vouchers or place-based rental assistance), households that were income eligible but did not receive any assistance, and households that were not income eligible and did not receive any assistance. Researchers then ran two predictive models to assess whether the receipt of housing assistance influenced the likelihood of housing insecurity at the time of the second interview. To isolate the effects of receiving housing assistance, researchers controlled for income, receipt of other forms of cash assistance, marital status, number of children, age, education level, race, and county of residence. The findings suggest that households that received housing assistance had a significantly lower risk of housing insecurity than their income-eligible counterparts over the 17-month period of the study.
- In the first wave of interviews (October 2009–April 2010), 39 percent of respondents reported experiencing or recently experiencing housing insecurity of some kind. The most common experiences of insecurity were being behind rent (18 percent), moving in with others (15 percent), moving due to cost (14 percent), homelessness (4 percent), and eviction (3 percent). These numbers dropped slightly in the second wave of interviews (April–August 2011), but the changes were not statistically significant.
- Between the first and second wave of interviews, 47 percent of respondents reported experiencing persistent housing security, 19 percent reported experiencing persistent housing insecurity, 15 percent reported slipping from security to insecurity, and 20 percent reported moving from insecurity to security.
- Among income-eligible households that did not receive housing assistance, 36 percent of respondents reported persistent security, 26 percent reported persistent insecurity, 20 percent reported slipping from security to insecurity, and 17 percent reported moving from insecurity to security.
- Among income-eligible households that received housing assistance, 53 percent of respondents reported persistent security, 18 percent reported persistent insecurity, 11 percent reported slipping from security to insecurity, and 19 percent reported moving from insecurity to security.
- In the first model, housing assistance recipients were 22.3 percent less likely to experience housing insecurity at the time of the second interview, compared with income-eligible nonrecipients. Losing housing assistance was associated with a 21.3 percent increase in the likelihood of experiencing housing insecurity.
- The second model, which better adjusted for key demographic variables, confirmed the findings from the first. Housing assistance recipients were about 31 percent less likely to experience housing insecurity when compared with income-eligible nonrecipients. Losing housing assistance was associated with an 18 percent increase in the likelihood of experiencing housing insecurity.
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