Early findings from the housing assistance supply experiment

by Ira S. Lowry

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Assesses the interim effects of the Housing Assistance Supply Experiment, which offers cash payments to help participants obtain adequate housing on the open market. The experiment operates in two sites--Brown County, Wisconsin, and St. Joseph County, Indiana. The program is open to nearly all low-income households, both owners and renters, who live within the experimental sites. Housing allowances have secured modest housing improvements for large numbers of participants at less public cost per case than is typical of federal housing programs. Moreover, the program has helped many households (e.g., homeowners) ineligible for other housing assistance programs. To date, its effects have been confined to participants; there is little evidence of program-caused changes in market or neighborhood conditions. Compared with alternatives, allowances seem to be a plausible instrument of national housing policy.

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