HUD to Release Long-Term Outcomes of Family Options Study

On October 25, HUD will release the long-term outcomes of the Family Options Study. The study was a “multi-site random assignment experiment designed to study the impact of various housing and services interventions for homeless families.” Homeless families across the nation in twelve communities were assigned one of four possible interventions:

  1. subsidy only;
  2. project-based transitional housing;
  3. community-based rapid re-housing; or
  4. usual care.

Families were tracked for a minimum of 37 months and metrics on housing stability, family preservation, adult well-being, and self-sufficiency were collected.

HUD will be announcing the long term results of the interventions on October 25. The event can be attended in person at the Brooke-Mondale Auditorium at HUD Headquarters or via webcast.

Register for the event here.

NAHRO Attends Two-Day Research Advisory Committee Meeting on MTW Expansion

NAHRO attended the two day public meeting of the Moving To Work (MTW) Research  Advisory Committee held on September 1, 2016 and September 2, 2016. While a complete summary of the entire two-day meeting is outside the scope of this blog post, the Committee made some preliminary determinations of the policy interventions for the new MTW cohorts.

Each cohort will receive standard MTW flexibilities, except for where those flexibilities may conflict with a policy intervention being tested. The following policy interventions were the ones that the Committee determined HUD should further examine when moving forward with the expansion:

  1. General MTW Flexibilities – Cohort of 30 agencies (possibly two cohorts of 15 agencies each) which would be given all general MTW flexibilities. Would be restricted to only small agencies and would be compared to a control group of small agencies to test the effects of the “standard MTW package.”
  2. Rent Reform – This cohort would test the efficacy and tenant impact of stepped rent and possibly also flat rent and tiered rent.
  3. Project-Based Voucher Caps –  This cohort would test the effects of removing or increasing PBV caps.
  4. Sponsored-Based Housing – A cohort that would test the effect of sponsored-based housing. It is unclear what specific type of sponsor-based housing or the vulnerable population affected would be. The Committee was split on whether to recommend this.
  5. Landlord Incentives – This cohort would test a “satchel” of flexibilities (e.g., increased payment standards, cash to landlords, inspection flexibilities, etc.) to determine their combined effect. Agencies will be able to pick and choose which tools in the “satchel” they utilize.
  6. Place-Based Model – This cohort would try to measure the effects of place-based strategies towards housing. The was discussed very quickly at the end of the two-day long meeting.

These were the Committee’s recommendations to HUD about how it should move forward, but these policy interventions are not necessarily the ones with which HUD will choose to move forward. Everything is subject to change.

This was my recollection of the end of the two-day long meeting, but if you attended the meeting, either in-person or by phone, and want to add something, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

Additional information will be posted on HUD’s MTW Expansion website located here.

September is Attendance Awareness Month

As schools get into full swing this month, September is Attendance Awareness Month. For schools to work as centers of learning, it is important for students to be in class. Attendance Works focuses on the importance of student attendance and tracking student attendance data. PHAs and community development organizations can be an important partner with families and schools to insure increased school attendance and therefore improved educational outcomes for the children living in affordable housing..

As part of Attendance Awareness Month, Attendance Works is hosting a webinar on using attendance data.

Thursday, September 8, 2016: Ensuring an Equal Opportunity to Learn: Leveraging Chronic Absence Data for Strategic Action, 11-12:30 pm (PT) / 2-3:30 pm (ET). Register now.

In June 2016, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights released its first national count of students who were chronically absent. The data showed a staggering 6.5 million students were chronically absent, which means that they missed so much school that their ability to read well and gain fundamental skills and knowledge for college and career was hampered. In the 500 most heavily impacted districts, over 30% of students were chronically absent.

Join experts Hedy Chang, Executive Director of Attendance Works and Dr. Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University as they release a major national study analyzing the data and more importantly, showing how leaders at the local, state and national levels can take strategic action to monitor and address chronic absence in order to ensure an equal opportunity to learn and succeed.

 The webinar will provide suggestions and tips on to become engaged in attendance awareness month activities such as displaying an attendance poster at housing sites, establishing or expanding programmatic interventions such as a mentoring program, etc.

More information on Attendance Awareness Month and Attendance Works can be found at:

Full Time Workers and Housing Affordability

The blog of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies has a great post on how the affordable housing supply is not meeting the needs of many full time workers in many cities. The post has a chart comparing the income needed to afford one bedroom units at Fair Market Rents (FMRs) with median full time wages. Here’s a portion of the chart.


The FMRs used are the ones estimated by HUD for 2015. As many Housing Choice Voucher Program Managers know, HUD FMRs frequently undervalue the true prices of rental markets, so the true difference between wages and the income needed to afford units at FMRs may be greater than this chart suggests.

The full blog post with the full chart can be found here.

Why Don’t HCV Program Participants Live Near Better Schools?

I saw in a Furman Center e-mail a link to a research paper titled “Why Don’t Housing Voucher Recipients Live Near Better Schools? Insight from Big Data.” While I haven’t gone through the entire paper, here’s a short excerpt from the abstract:

We find that families with vouchers are more likely to move toward a better school in the year before their oldest child meets the eligibility cutoff for kindergarten, suggesting salience matters. Further, the magnitude of the effect is larger in metropolitan areas with a relatively high share of affordable rental units located near high-performing schools and in neighborhoods in close proximity to higher-performing schools. Results suggest that, if given the appropriate information and opportunities, more voucher families would move to better schools when their children reach school age.
Read the entire paper here.

New CRS Report on Federal Spending Trends

The Congressional Research Service recently created a report titled “Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Overview of Spending Trends, FY2008-FY2015.” The report is the latest in a series that attempts to identify and discuss programs and services oriented toward low-income populations, while focusing on aggregate spending trends.

The report contains some interesting charts that show how spending on housing compares to other categories of federal spending. The chart below from page 6 of the report shows spending by category. Notice that health care spending dwarfs the other categories, while “housing and development” is in the middle.


Read the full report here.

HUD Offering $2 million in ROSS Grants to Help Students Navigate College and Continuing Education Financial Aid Assistance

On August 2, HUD announced $2 million in grants to “help low-income families and young people apply for federal aid for college and other post-secondary educational opportunities.” The program is being funded through the Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) Program. The program will allow up to six public housing agencies (PHAs) to support “Education Navigators.”

HUD’s ROSS for Education Program is known as Project SOAR (Students + Opportunities + Achievements = Results).  It will “support hundreds of young people between the ages of 15 – 20 to apply for [the] U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).” HUD is also working with the Department of Education to share data about FAFSA completion and is working with the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team to develop methods to increase completion rates of the FAFSA among students with housing assistance.

Read HUD’s full press release here.

Read HUD’s Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) here.

Read more about how behavioral economics can be used to “nudge” applicants receiving housing assistance to seek Federal Student Aid here.

MTW Expansion Committee Conference Call and Summary of Policies

As mentioned in a prior blog post, the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion Committee Conference Call is occurring now [Edit: The call ended at 4 pm]. HUD has also posted a summary of the policy proposals it has received to be potentially studied in MTW cohorts. Here are the numbers to call in:

  • United States –  (800) 230-1766;
  • Outside the United States – (612) 288-0329; and
  • Persons with hearing impairments – (800) 977-8339 and providing the FRS operator with the conference call toll-free number: (800) 230-1766.

The call is until 4 pm today. The next call will be at the following time:

  • July 28, 2016 – Cost-Effectiveness and Incentives to Increase Self-Sufficiency for Families with Children (1 pm to 4 pm).

Read the summary of policy proposals here.

Housing as a Basic Patient Need

The importance of housing is starting to permeate other professions, including medicine, as this post in the The New York Times Health and Wellness blog illustrates. Here’s a great quote:

Research also shows that providing housing for low-income and homeless people can substantially reduce medical costs. A housing initiative in Oregon, for example, decreased Medicaid spending by 55 percent for the newly housed; a study of a similar program in Los Angeles found that every $1 spent on housing led to $6 saved on medical costs.

Read the entire post here.

PAHRC Releases “Housing is a Foundation” 2016 Report

Today, July 20, PAHRC released its yearly research report for 2016 titled “Housing is a Foundation.” This year’s report focuses on the lack of available housing assistance, the people who receive housing assistance, and the beneficial impacts of housing assistance. The report supplies data to “foster a better understanding of the need for housing assistance and how this assistance helps meet the needs of low-income families and their communities.”

Here’s a great graphic on how helpful rental assistance is on all facets of a household.

The full report can be read here.