Tenant-Based v. Project-based Housing Assistance: Evidence from a Housing Assistance Lottery

The project team is studying the effect of tenant-based housing vouchers and public housing programs on the health outcomes of vulnerable individuals and families. The study takes advantage of a natural experiment in which a unique housing assistance lottery produced random offers of public housing or housing vouchers to a subset of wait-list households. Researchers are estimating both the independent and comparative effects of each program to learn about the relative effects of tenant-based versus project-based housing assistance on health. They are also incorporating detailed neighborhood characteristics and administrative data on homelessness to explore the mechanisms through which housing quality might affect health. Results will inform policymakers, public housing authorities, and public health practitioners about whether project-based or tenant-based subsidies are better at supporting the health of low-income children and adults and the trade-off between these approaches.

Primary: Asthma & Respiratory Infections; Assault (by firearms and other means); Pregnancy; Mental Health (Generalized Anxiety, Depressive Disorder, Acute Stress Reaction)
Secondary: Injuries (residential falls, accidents at home); Developmental Delays; Circulatory Problems

Primary: Mental Health (Generalized Anxiety, Depressive Disorder, Acute Stress Reaction); Circulatory Problems, Heart Failure; Asthma and Respiratory Infections; Injuries (residential falls, accidents at home)
Secondary: Assault (by firearm and other means); Sunburn and Heat Stroke; Battered by Spouse or Partner


Two-stage least squares using the initial random wait-list positions for public housing and vouchers as instruments for take-up of public housing and voucher assistance to estimate Local Average Treatment Effects (LATEs) and Ordinary Least Squares for reduced-form Intent-to-Treat (ITT) estimates.

Family walking into a house
Grantee and Partner organizations

New York University, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service
University of South Florida Policy and Services Research Center

Grant status
Principal investigators
Ingrid G. Ellen, PhD
Robert Collinson, MA, MPP
Start date
Award amount
24 months

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