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Foundation funds housing assistance research of three faculty members

March 1, 2010 By Stacy Forster

Three Institute for Research on Poverty research affiliates at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have received a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to examine the effects of Section 8 housing subsidy receipts on the economic self-sufficiency of low-income families and the educational opportunities of their children.

Robert Haveman, Thomas Kaplan, Barbara (Bobbi) Wolfe and graduate assistant Deven Carlson will use a $194,000 grant to study the effects of housing voucher receipts 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 and training programs, and will attempt to understand how the recession has affected the impacts of housing voucher receipt on low-income families.

“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 Timothy Smeeding, director of the institute and La Follette School of Public Affairs faculty member. “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. 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.”

Haveman is the John Bascom Professor Emeritus of Economics and faculty affiliate of UW–Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty; Kaplan is senior scientist and associate director of programs and management at the institute; Wolfe is a professor of economics, public affairs and population health sciences and affiliate of the institute; and Carlson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at UW–Madison.

For more information about the MacArthur Foundation, visit