Posted Date: January 5, 2021
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January 05, 2021  

New Cityscape Reflects on Moving to Work

The newest issue of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research features a symposium reflecting on Moving to Work (MTW), a program authorized in 1996 giving public housing agencies (PHAs) flexibility in providing low-income housing assistance toward achieving three main objectives: improving cost effectiveness, promoting self-sufficiency among assisted households, and increasing housing choice for low-income families. This issue was guest edited by Elizabeth Rudd.

Martha M. Galvez, Ruth Gourevitch, and Benny Docter describe the 39 PHAs with MTW designations as of 2016 and the households they serve. The authors describe the similarities and differences between MTW agencies and non-participating agencies.

Diane K. Levy, Leiha Edmonds, and David Long examine how MTW agencies have taken advantage of the funding flexibility enabled by program participation. Designated agencies are allowed to treat separate funding streams as fungible, quickly moving resources where needed and investing in innovative approaches toward meeting MTW program objectives.

Martha M. Galvez, Daniel Teles, Alyse D. Oneto, and Matthew Gerken explore MTW agencies’ use of project-based voucher (PBV) assistance. The authors show that MTW agencies are more likely to use PBVs than traditional agencies, that PBVs are more commonly used in tighter housing markets, and that there is little evidence to show that PBVs reach lower-poverty, opportunity-rich neighborhoods.

Nina Castells investigates the effects of a rent reform measure in the Santa Clara County Housing Authority on Housing Choice Voucher program residents’ employment rates, average earnings, and housing subsidies. The measure increased tenant rent contribution from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income. The reform did not affect residents’ employment rates or average earnings, indicating the increased housing costs were absorbed by households.

James Riccio outlines the trade-offs associated with different rent reform options, looking at four agencies’ experiences with an alternative approach for subsidizing private-market rents paid by families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Mark Treskon, Matthew Gerken, and Martha M. Galvez assess the success that MTW agencies had in meeting the housing choice and self-sufficiency objectives of the MTW program. The authors found some signs of a positive relationship between program participation and outcomes of interest.

Christina Stacy, Josh Leopold, Daniel Teles, Alyse D. Oneto, Yipeng Su, Matthew Gerken, and Ruth Gourevitch measure the impact of MTW participation on cost-effectiveness, finding no significant impact on cost per assisted household. The increased funding associated with MTW participation, the authors found, was used to assist a greater number of families, not to increase the cost effectiveness of programs.

Max-Christopher Krapp compares outcomes from MTW agencies to German social housing programs.

Adriana Hurtado-Tarazona identifies common challenges and policy approaches between MTW and Latin American approaches to ensuring housing provision.

Becky Tunstall examines differences and similarities between rent subsidy programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Refereed Papers
This issue of Cityscape includes two refereed papers.

Larry Santucci presents a new spatial dataset of properties in Philadelphia with deeds containing a racially restrictive covenant between 1920 and 1932. The author argues that the use of these covenants formed an invisible barrier around less densely populated areas of the city sought after by white residents.

Christopher Weare discusses the potential for improvement in the performance of rapid re-housing programs in terms of moving people experiencing homelessness quickly and effectively into stable housing. Applying performance management analytic tools, the author finds that reducing certain program performance deficits could be more effective at improving housing outcomes than simply increasing program budgets.

Articles in Cityscape’s regularly appearing departments include:

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