Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Faculty, alum receive MacArthur Foundation grant to study housing subsidies

Two La Follette School professors and a 2007 alum have received a $194,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to examine the effects of Section 8 housing subsidy receipt on the economic self-sufficiency of low-income families and the educational opportunities of their children.

Research available

Preliminary research on the effects of housing subsidies is available in the Fall 2008 La Follette Policy Report and as La Follette School Working Paper No. 2009-025.

Robert Haveman, Bobbi Wolfe, graduate assistant Deven Carlson and Institute for Research on Poverty researcher Thomas Kaplan will use the funds to study the effects of housing voucher receipt on employment and earnings, family composition, neighborhood quality and the use of other government programs, as part of the Foundation's How Housing Matters to Families and Communities competitive grant program. Currently, 1.9 million very low-income families receive housing vouchers across the nation, including more than 850,000 families with minor children.

The project extends the researchers' earlier work using longitudinal Wisconsin administrative data in which they found that traditionally disadvantaged populations — such as racial minorities and poorly educated individuals — respond to housing voucher receipt in a manner that may improve their long-term economic self-sufficiency and job success.

In addition, the researchers will study the relationship between housing voucher receipt and children's educational opportunities; its effects on adult participation in worker assistance/training programs; and to understand how the recession has affected the impacts of housing voucher receipt on low-income families.

The MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

"We are honored to have these productive and highly regarded scholars at the University of Wisconsin as affiliates of the Institute for Research on Poverty," says La Follette School professor Timothy Smeeding, who is director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, where Haveman, Wolfe and Kaplan are research affiliates. Carlson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

"Their research has already shown that housing voucher receipt has beneficial long-term effects in helping low-income families along on the road to self-sufficiency," Smeeding adds. Their new work is equally important as jobs and schools for low-income families and children are at the top of the policy agenda in Wisconsin and nationwide."

MacArthur Awards $6 Million to Support Research on How Housing Matters to Children, Families, and Communities; Competition Seeks New Research Proposals, February 23, 2010, MacArthur Foundation