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. 

Effects of Rent Control and Inclusionary Zoning on Housing Affordability and Access to Opportunity for Low Income Households and People of Color

The US is facing a housing affordability crisis that continues to exacerbate economic and racial inequities. Inclusionary zoning policies (IZ), which require real estate developers to include below market-rate units in new housing projects, and rent control regulations, which place caps on rental price increases, have reemerged as potential solutions to the housing affordability crisis. However, rent control and IZ policies are complicated and controversial. Studies generally find that rent control decreases rents for tenants in controlled units, but that these benefits may be offset by greater costs in the uncontrolled rental market. Likewise, while there is some evidence that IZ policies can provide economic opportunity for residents with low incomes, critics argue that they also reduce the overall supply of housing and serve as a short-term solution to the larger problem.

Cross-post

The health and well-being of people are intimately tied to the conditions of life in their communities—conditions that structure opportunities and pathways for lifelong and even inter-generational well-being. Philanthropic efforts to improve community health must attend to the many systems that shape life conditions by focusing not only on whom, what, or where to fund, but equally importantly, on how to fund. The Urban Institute’s recent comprehensive review of health-focused community development investments made by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation between 2013 and 2019 yielded a wide range of insights about how philanthropic investments can drive enduring systems change needed to improve community health, well-being, and equity across the nation.

Cross-post

Darrick Hamilton, the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School, has gained national recognition for shaping policy solutions to close the racial wealth gap, which refers to how hundreds of years of structural racism have deprived Black families of resources that accumulate and transfer from one generation to the next. The typical White family has 10 times the wealth of the typical Black family and seven times the wealth of the typical Latinx family. This stark and persistent racial wealth gap has harmed generations, driven disparities and appears to be growing, even after controlling for household characteristics and long-term education and income gains by Black people.

Post-ACA, More Than One-third Of Women with Prenatal Medicaid Remained Uninsured Before or After Pregnancy

Since the early 1990s, Medicaid has been critical in providing insurance coverage for pregnant women with low incomes in the United States - pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage is available to women with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level in most states. Because pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility is almost always more generous than eligibility for other adults, many women with low incomes not otherwise eligible for Medicaid gain coverage during their pregnancies but then lose that coverage sixty days after delivery, when their pregnancy-related eligibility expires. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage for twelve months postpartum. While the ACA provided coverage improvements for pregnant women outside of pregnancy, especially in states expanding Medicaid, many low-income women remain uninsured before or after their pregnancies. Building on existing studies tracking changes in Medicaid coverage and uninsurance under the law, researchers Emily M. Johnston, Stacey McMorrow, Clara Alvarez Caraveo and Lisa Dubay examined data for new mothers with Medicaid-covered prenatal care in this study published in Health Affairs.

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.