Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities

The places where we live, learn, work, and play all contribute to our ability to become and stay healthy. A Culture of Health means everyone has the basics to be as healthy as possible—like access to quality education, employment opportunities, and safe, clean neighborhoods across rural and urban settings. 

Shaping Healthy Affordable Housing through Policy, Design, Place

Our homes and neighborhoods have a powerful impact on our physical and mental health, with the potential to exacerbate chronic and acute health problems and cost the U.S. billions of dollars annually. Sherry Ahrentzen and Lynne Dearborn investigated how the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the nation’s largest source of funding for the development and preservation of affordable rental housing, can contribute to shaping a healthier housing stock.

Commentary

Two pandemics upended our nation this year. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to sicken, kill, and reshape the lives of people everywhere, and is also testing our nation’s healthcare, public health, education, and social protection systems like never before. The second pandemic is one that has been with us since well before our nation’s founding but has come into much sharper focus this past year. Like a virus, it has infected virtually every aspect of our society including our laws and policies, a central focus of the Policies for Action (P4A) research program: systemic racism and its attendant social, economic, and political injustices. Although this time last year, the need for sound policy research was clear – especially in light of growing inequality in health and wealth, and the conditions that drive and are shaped by these – 2020 made these needs more visible and more urgent. As P4A enters its sixth year, a strong and growing community of policy researchers across the country, supported by a stellar National Advisory Committee, are generating a host of research findings crucially needed at this moment.

Tracking the Fallout: The Impact of Eviction Moratoriums on Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Evictions and Displacement Post-COVID-19

Long before the novel coronavirus, poor and working-class communities of color across Florida were weathering a pandemic of multilayered oppressions. COVID-19 lays bare the systemic and structural inequities as pre-existing conditions for the most historically marginalized among us. And while housing is one of the most researched social determinants of health, effective policies have not been adopted to promote residential stability. Florida’s complicated political landscape has led to weak and fragmented tenants' rights protections and limited tools for affordable housing, which creates a structural vulnerability for the most underserved communities. In this project, the research team will study three Florida urban counties that have implemented COVID-related tenant protections in divergent ways (Miami-Dade, Orange, and Hillsborough counties).

The Early Effects of Rent Stabilization on Housing Stability and Racial Equity

Within the last decade, debates on rent stabilization have reemerged among housing researchers, policymakers, and the communities they serve, especially in regions where low-income communities of color have experienced skyrocketing rents and disproportionate rates of residential displacement. As a whole, research on rent stabilization has produced mixed findings and limited empirical analysis to effectively guide policy decisions. This study seeks to address the uncertainty over rent stabilization’s effects by providing an evidence-based analysis of the early impacts of rent stabilization policies on tenants in the cities of Mountain View and Richmond, two jurisdictions in California’s San Francisco Bay Area that adopted rent stabilization ordinances in 2016. 

Investing in the Middle: A New Approach to Deliver on the Promise of Equitable Neighborhood Development

Early research suggests Middle Neighborhoods (MNs), communities that offer affordable housing that is not a result of specific affordable housing policy and access to many outlets that positively shape health and well-being, are opportunity-rich with place-based resources, and policy innovations at the city level hold the potential to increase this existing housing affordability and stability. 

Evaluating Colorado Regulations that Grant Cities the Authority to Support the Safe and Equitable Operation of Mobile Home Communities

Newly enacted Colorado HB1309, 1196, and 1201 require the Colorado Division of Housing to institute new regulations for manufactured housing parks and grants cities the authority to enact ordinances that support the safe and equitable operation of these communities. This project will evaluate the implementation process and impact of these policies in 3 different Colorado communities.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing in California: How effective are new state planning efforts to reduce segregation?

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), enhancing federal efforts to hold local governments accountable in reducing segregation. The Trump administration rescinded this rule in early 2018, but eight states continue to implement AFFH programs. With recent legislation incorporating AFFH in its Housing Element Law, California now has perhaps the most expansive approach to AFFH in the country. All local governments in the state must update the Housing Element of their general plan over the next two years (2020-2022), a process through which they must plan to accommodate housing growth over an eight-year period and demonstrate to the state they have zoned an adequate number of sites for low-income housing.

The Impact of Ban the Box Policies on Housing Discrimination

Numerous cities in the United States have passed "ban the box" policies that restrict the use of background checks in the housing application process. However, previous research has found that ban the box policies for employment applications increase discrimination against young Black and Latino men. In this project, the research team will examine the impact of background checks in the housing application process, asking two questions.

Evaluating the Effects of a Housing Preference Policy on Wellbeing

Portland's North/Northeast (N/NE) Preference Policy the first in the nation to recreate housing access in a historical community of color to those displaced by urban renewal and gentrification. The policy builds new affordable rental housing with placement priority for families with inter-generational ties to the area. This study provides a critical opportunity to evaluate the question: what are the intended and unintended consequences of the Preference Policy on returning resident's well-being?

The Impact of Pittsburgh's Innovative Mobility Vouchers and Mobility Counseling Program on Racial and Economic Equity

Housing choices for those with traditional housing choice vouchers (HCV) are constrained and rent subsidies set too low to significantly increase moves to high-opportunity neighborhoods. Moreover, many landlords in destination neighborhoods are unaware of the HCV program and its benefits, producing an additional hurdle to HCV use. As a result, most voucher recipients end up in neighborhoods similar to those they previously lived in. For this project, the research team will partner with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) and the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania to investigate the effects of HACP's innovative mobility vouchers and mobility counseling programs on improving low-income racial minority access and transition to opportunity-rich neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, PA.