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The Rent Reform Demonstration: Interim Findings on Implementation, Work, and Other Outcomes


Authors: Riccio, James A.     Verma, Nandita     Deitch, Victoria    

Report Acceptance Date: November 2019 (217 pages)

Posted Date: November 21, 2019

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 interim results (covering more than 2 years of followup) on the new rent policy’s effects, or “impacts,” on families’ labor market and housing-related outcomes, receipt of other government benefits, and use of homelessness services. It also uses indepth qualitative interviews with PHA staff and tenants to explore their experiences with and views of the new policy. (A companion report that presents findings covering 12 to 18 months of follow-up, “Early Effects,” is being released under its own cover.) The results indicate that, when the findings for all four PHAs are combined, the new policy did not generate statistically significant increases in tenants’ average earnings during the available followup period. The story varied substantially across locations, however, with some positive effects on earnings in Lexington and San Antonio, but not in Louisville and Washington, D.C. The report also presents other impacts on housing subsidies, tenure in the voucher program, receipt of other government benefits, PHA administrative costs, and PHA and tenant experiences with the alternative rent model.

Revised Posting Date: March 2, 2023

Click here for Early Effects on Employment and Housing Subsidies report
Click here for Reducing Work Disincentives in the Housing Choice Voucher Program report


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