The Protective Effect of Housing Assistance on Housing Hardship

Ian Lundberg , Princeton University
Sarah Gold, Princeton University
Louis Donnelly, Rutgers University
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University
Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

Difficulty paying rent is among the most pressing issues for American families today, many of whom fall behind on payments or are evicted from their homes each year. Government programs to reduce hardship include public housing and other assistance in which an agency offsets the cost of housing in the private market. This paper assesses whether receipt of either type of assistance reduces the probability that a family will (a) not pay the full amount of rent or mortgage or (b) be evicted from their home in the subsequent 6 years. Because no randomized trial has assessed these questions, we provide evidence from observational data and formalize the conditions under which our estimates support a causal interpretation. Families receiving assistance in our sample experience less hardship conditional on other variables, and we argue that this statistical evidence points toward a causal conclusion that assistance reduces housing hardship.

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 Presented in Session 239. Flash Session: Social Policy and Child Well-being