This report explores how guaranteed income might address gaps and deficits in policies designed to address America’s housing affordability crisis. One hundred guaranteed income pilots have emerged since 2018 on top of an intermittent history of cash-based policy legislation, proposals, and experiments in America over the course of the 20th century. Less well documented are the supplementary and comparative advantages of cash infusion vis-à-vis programs restricted to meeting basic needs, such as housing, food, and child care.
Our analysis of guaranteed income as a strategy to combat the affordable housing crisis cites secondary data from past experiments as well as current demonstrations that have released evaluation data. In addition to using secondary data, we conducted interviews with key stakeholders from three recent municipal guaranteed income pilots in Austin, TX; Arlington, VA; and Chicago, IL; to glean their thinking about the relationship between cash infusion and housing stability. These findings demonstrate that cash-based approaches to the affordable housing crisis provide:
- Better housing stability outcomes for more renters;
- More choice and dignity for all renters;
- Reduced disparity and discrimination against marginalized groups;
- Increased housing access for excluded groups; and
- Greater efficiency in delivering housing to those in need now
More research and data on how cash can specifically help to solve America’s thorniest policy problems are still needed. In particular, implementation studies to drill down on the interaction of cash with particular public benefit programs, not just for purposes of avoiding cliff effects, which is already being thoroughly explored, but for demonstrating how cash might supplement or supplant in-kind approaches altogether.