Interactives, stories, and collections that go beyond the data

Housing Assistance Matters Initiative

About the Initiative | Why housing assistance matters


Decent and affordable housing has far-reaching consequences for people’s health, quality of life, and access to opportunities, but these consequences are not always well understood. To inform public debate about assisted housing policy and strengthen policy outcomes, Housing Assistance Matters highlights research and analysis about the need for and benefits of well-managed public and assisted housing. Using a multimedia approach, this initiative draws upon research by Urban Institute scholars and others to explore key connections between all forms of rental assistance and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.


One in Four: America's Housing Lottery (Video)

Housing policy has the ability to exacerbate or mitigate extreme income inequality in American cities. In cities like New York and San Francisco, where incomes are growing and inequality is increasing, rising prices and rents can displace poor families. But affordable housing secures a place for low-income people in communities with growing tax bases and improved services. Families with access to better schools, quality transportation, recreational facilities, and other community services can improve their quality of life and provide greater opportunities for their children.

Unfortunately, affordable housing is scarce in many cities. America's housing policy has never fully met the demand for affordable rental housing, and the number of households served by federal rental assistance has plateaued. Today, only 24 percent of the 19 million eligible households receive assistance. In other words, only one in four households wins the housing assistance lottery.

Who are those winners? How great is the need? What happens to those who don't win?


Other Products

Mapping America's Rental Housing Crisis
Read the story | Full report | Explore the map

Crossroads: The Intersection of Housing and Education Policy
Explore the feature

The Cost of Affordable Housing: Does it Pencil Out?
Explore the feature

Anatomy of a Preservation Deal
Main page | Read the brief and blog post 
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