Keely Stater, Manager of Research and Industry Intelligence, Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation, HAI Group's Research Solution.
As rental costs rise faster than wages, many families struggle to afford a decent home. This challenge is especially difficult for low-income families, who are working with smaller budgets and fewer desirable rental options. Families lucky enough to receive rental assistance, alleviating some of the financial burden of housing, often struggle to achieve enough economic mobility in the long term to afford housing on their budget alone. New research by the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC), HAI Group’s Research Solution sheds some light on this dynamic.
PAHRC finds in their 2016 PAHRC Report: Housing is a Foundation that many recipients of rental assistance face greater challenges to economic mobility than their low-income peers. For example, 31% of adults receiving rental assistance have less than a high school degree compared to 20% of unassisted low-income renters. Likewise, only 8% of adults receiving rental assistance have a college degree compared to 19% of unassisted low-income renters. Thus many adults pursuing rental assistance are already disadvantaged in the labor market and likely must make additional investments in education or training before they can qualify for a better paying job.
At the same time, seniors opting to receive rental assistance face more health challenges than their low-income peers and report higher rates of chronic diseases. This might preclude them from working to supplement their income or present major financial difficulties.
Children living in homes where parents pursue rental assistance also face more challenges to educational success, including higher rates of learning disabilities, ADD, Autism, and other disabilities than do their low-income renter peers. Educational obstacles like these may reduce the chances that children finish high school or attend college.
However, despite these larger hurdles to economic mobility, families receiving rental assistance also report better outcomes on other dimensions when compared to unassisted low-income renters. For example, renters receiving rental assistance report fewer instances of housing uncertainty, improved financial security, and more involvement in their children’s education than their low-income peers. In these ways, rental assistance allows families to invest in their financial future and that of their children’s.
PAHRC concludes that innovative partnerships pairing rental assistance with opportunities to improve labor market skills, health outcomes, and education, are necessary to help families receiving rental assistance achieve sustainable economic mobility. You can read more about these findings as well as other dynamics related to the impact of rental assistance on families and communities in the 2016 PAHRC Report: Housing is a Foundation and follow PAHRC on Twitter to join this conversation.
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