The Impact of Fair Share Housing Policies on Racial Disparities in Health and Opportunity: Evidence from Massachusetts' Chapter 40B

Principal Investigators
Harvard University
Funded on

Fair share housing policies offer a mechanism for reducing racial disparities in access to high opportunity areas. Since the 1960s, a number of U.S. states have implemented fair share policies, yet little research has evaluated the impact of fair share on equity or on the wellbeing of program beneficiaries.  

The current project addresses this gap by investigating the impact on wellbeing of the longest-running fair share program in the United States: Massachusetts Chapter 40B. Specifically, the research team will use a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the impacts of 40B on racial equity in housing stability, access to opportunity, and health outcomes for program participants. The fact that 40B’s affordable housing units are allocated using a random lottery process will allow the research team to rigorously examine the causal impact of the program on beneficiaries’ outcomes.  

This project will also characterize, for the first time, who is served by the 40B program and whether the program moves those beneficiaries from lower to higher opportunity areas. Data for this project will come from a variety of sources, including the Massachusetts Subsidized Housing Inventory, Opportunity Insights, Infutor Data Solutions, and the Massachusetts All-Payer Claims Database. Additionally, a partnership with MAPC will enable the research team to assemble the first-ever dataset on 40B lottery applicants.   

The overarching goal of this project is to produce robust evidence on the impact of affordable housing on wellbeing, informing 40B implementation within Massachusetts as well as scholarly debates about which housing policies most effectively promote racial equity in health, housing stability, and opportunity.