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Landlords and Access to Opportunity

Dionissi Aliprantis, Hal Martin () and David Phillips ()

No 201902R, Working Papers from Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Abstract: Despite being eligible for use in any neighborhood, housing choice vouchers tend to be redeemed in low-opportunity neighborhoods. This paper investigates how landlords contribute to this outcome and how they respond to efforts to change it. We leverage a policy change in Washington, DC, that increased voucher rental payments only in high-rent neighborhoods. Using two waves of a correspondence experiment that bracket the policy change, we show that most opportunity landlords screen out prospective voucher tenants, and we detect no change in average screening behavior after a $450 per month increase in voucher payments. In lease-up data, however, enough landlords do respond to increased payments to equalize the flow of voucher tenants into high- vs. low-rent neighborhoods. Using tax data and listings from a website specializing in subsidized housing, we characterize a group of marginal opportunity landlords who respond to higher payments. Marginal opportunity landlords are relatively rare, list their units near market rates, operate on a small scale, and negatively select into the voucher program based on hard-to-observe differences in unit quality.

Keywords: Small AreaFair Market Rent; opportunity neighborhood; SAFMR; mobility; landlord; Housing Choice Voucher (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H30 I38 J15 R21 R23 R31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 70 pages
Date: 2019-08-30
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ure
Note: This is a revision of working paper 19-02, titled "Can Landlords Be Paid to Stop Avoiding Voucher Tenants?”
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DOI: 10.26509/frbc-wp-201902r

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