Reducing Inequality Through Housing Policies: The Housing Choice Voucher Program and Its Effects on Academic Outcomes of Low-Income Students in Houston, Texas

Does the Housing Choice Voucher program lead to changes in neighborhood and school contexts for low-income families and improve educational outcomes for youth?

Social contexts such as housing, neighborhoods, and schools are critical in shaping children’s educational experiences and outcomes. For low-income families, receiving a housing choice voucher that subsidizes the cost of rental housing in the private rental market can lead to changes in neighborhood and school contexts, residential stability, and household financial resources. In turn, these changes may reduce educational disparities between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. The Housing Choice Voucher program, the largest low-income housing subsidy program in the U.S., provides vouchers to qualifying low-income families to rent housing in the private rental market. In theory, families may use these vouchers to move to neighborhoods with better resourced schools. Yet barriers like landlord discrimination and rental costs may prohibit families from making housing choices that might improve their children’s educational opportunities and outcomes. In partnership with the Houston Housing Authority, Rhodes and colleagues will examine whether and how voucher receipt improves academic outcomes for students from low-income families. Analyses will include intent-to-treat estimates of voucher effects as well as treatment-on-treated effects of using vouchers. Findings will inform HHA policy and practice to strategically address barriers encountered by voucher recipients and improve access to educational opportunities for low-income families and their children.

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