Increasing landlord participation in the housing choice voucher program
Federal rental assistance programs are one of the largest and most effective anti-poverty programs in the US, lifting over three million people out of poverty every year. The largest rental assistance program, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, has been found to dramatically reduce homelessness and housing instability, and facilitate geographic and economic mobility. But its success depends crucially on participation from landlords, which determines both how many units are available to voucher holders and where these units are located. Despite the centrality of landlords to the success of HCV programs, there is little experimental evidence on effective methods of encouraging their participation. In partnership with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), we aim to test the impact of targeted outreach on landlord participation in the city’s HCV program. In a randomized experiment (N ~ 11,000), we will conduct a pilot study to test the effect of messages that reduce the perceived compliance burdens and the stigma associated with voucher holders on landlords’ interest in and applications for the HCV program. We intend to build on preliminary results and lessons learned from this pilot study to test a similar intervention in a well-powered large-scale field experiment with public housing agencies across multiple cities.