In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
Evaluating the Effects of Santa Clara County Housing Authority’s Rent Reform
Amid a budget crunch, the Santa Clara Housing Authority reduced its subsidies to low-income renters in 2013. This retrospective study shows that the decrease did not affect average employment and earnings over the next four years, as some economic theories might have predicted.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
This report presents 27- to 30-month impacts of an alternative rent policy for housing voucher recipients in four locations. Voucher program tenure and monthly housing subsidies increased for recipients, and housing agencies’ administrative burdens decreased. Average earnings did not rise overall, but earnings increased in two locations and employment increased in one.
This report presents early impacts on an alternative rent policy designed to reward work among housing voucher recipients. The policy increased earnings in two of four locations, reduced administrative burdens in all four housing agencies, and somewhat reduced tenants’ rent and utilities expenses and their likelihood of exiting the voucher program.
The Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS) combines MDRC’s decades of experience tackling social policy issues with insights from behavioral science. This graphic explains the CABS’s approach to solving problems.
Lessons from the BIAS Project
The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project launched an intervention in California to engage families in a welfare-to-work program and another intervention in New York to encourage low-income single adults without dependent children to attend a meeting about an earnings supplement program intended to provide an incentive to work.
The SIMPLER framework was developed for the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project ― the first major effort to apply behavioral insights to human services programs in the United States. SIMPLER summarizes several key behavioral concepts that can guide practitioners interested in using behavioral insights to enhance service delivery.
Rent Reform Demonstration Baseline Report
Housing Choice Vouchers subsidize rent and utilities for homes that families rent from private landlords. The Rent Reform Demonstration is testing an alternative rent policy for voucher recipients. This report describes the new policy, the rationale behind each of its elements, and the way it is being evaluated.
Findings from Family Rewards 2.0
A program in Memphis and the Bronx offered cash incentives, coupled with family guidance, to poor families for meeting certain health care, education, and work milestones. The program increased income and reduced poverty, increased dental visits and health status, reduced employment somewhat, and had few effects on students’ education.