Understanding the Impacts of Emergency Housing Grants on Housing Stability     

Last registered on August 24, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Understanding the Impacts of Emergency Housing Grants on Housing Stability     
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007731
Initial registration date
August 20, 2021
Last updated
August 24, 2021, 10:45 AM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Booth School of Business University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Inclusive Economy Lab University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2020-05-01
End date
2022-11-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a large increase in unemployment, which is likely to leave many low-income households unable to pay for housing. In response, the City of Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) partnered with UpTogether (formerly the Family Independence Initiative) to launch the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant, which provided over 1,600 unconditional grants of $1,000 to Chicagoans. This initiative was unprecedented for DOH and was seen as a model by other cities. Because grants were administered via an open lottery, this program offers an opportunity to learn about the impact of the grants.

The City of Chicago also partnered with The Resurrection Project (TRP) to create the Chicago Resiliency Fund, which offered $5 million in unconditional grants of $1,000 each to impacted individuals across Chicago who did not receive a CARES Act check from the federal government. Because TRP allocated funding for some of the grants through an open application and lottery, this program offers the opportunity to generate rigorous evidence about the impact of this grant on socioeconomic outcomes.

The Inclusive Economy Lab has partnered with DOH, UpTogether, and TRP to better understand the impact of the programs on formal eviction, homeless shelter entry, hospitalization, and build-up of rental arrears and other debt.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Bertrand, Marianne and Kelly Hallberg. 2021. "Understanding the Impacts of Emergency Housing Grants on Housing Stability     ." AEA RCT Registry. August 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7731-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) has partnered with UpTogether (formerly the Family Independence Initiative) to launch the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant, which has provided 1,685 unconditional grants of $1,000 to impacted individuals across Chicago in the first round of funding. This rapid and large-scale investment is unprecedented and was seen as a model by other cities early in the pandemic.

The City of Chicago also partnered with The Resurrection Project (TRP) to create the Chicago Resiliency Fund, which offered $5 million in unconditional grants of $1,000 each to impacted individuals across Chicago who did not receive a CARES Act check from the federal government. Because TRP allocated funding for 1,765 of the grants through an open application and lottery, and others through partner nonprofit agencies, this program offers the opportunity to generate rigorous evidence about the impact of this grant on socioeconomic outcomes.

The Inclusive Economy Lab has partnered with DOH, UpTogether, and TRP to understand the impact of this program on the housing stability of recipients. Because a portion of the grants
were administered via an open lottery, the launch of these programs offer an opportunity to learn about the impact of the grant.

This research has the potential to inform future rounds of emergency assistance that rely on allocating cash grants quickly. Our work will address the following research question: What is the impact of receiving a grant through the lottery for applications on socioeconomic outcomes, including formal eviction, homeless shelter entry, build-up of rental arrears, and other debt?
Intervention Start Date
2020-05-01
Intervention End Date
2022-11-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Housing stability and financial stability
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Financial stability will be measured using credit data including credit scores and debt in collections. Housing stability will be measured through residential moves and interaction with the homeless shelter system, as measured by appearance in Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data. Other outcomes, like hospitalizations, may be measured by interaction with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The Inclusive Economy Lab will use various methods to answer our research question, with a focus on the lotteries, which provide exogenous variation in who received the cash grants.

Over 74,000 Chicago residents applied for the 1,685 unconditional cash grants distributed by DOH in their first round of funding. Applicants were required to document the temporary economic hardship they were experiencing as a result of the pandemic and provide proof that their household income fell at or below 60 percent of area median income. Over 600 of these grants were distributed via an open lottery and the remaining grants were distributed through DOH delegate agencies. There were approximately 6,500 applicants to The Resurrection Project’s Chicago Resiliency Fund. TRP conducted a lottery and 1,765 were selected for funding, with grants awarded to 1,607. Applicants were required to document their SSN or ITIN and provide identification, proof of address, and proof of income (with self-certification accepted) pre-lottery. Eligible applicants, who had income less than 60 percent of area median income and did not receive CARES Act stimulus, were randomly selected for funding. We aim to link applicants from both programs to administrative data to observe our main outcomes of interest.

In addition, the Inclusive Economy Lab has invited all applicants to participate in surveys by phone and email. The survey asks residents about their housing and financial circumstances and needs, as well as their mental and physical health. Collecting survey data allows us to interpret the mechanisms that are driving the outcomes we can observe in administrative data. The Inclusive Economy Lab will compare post-lottery outcomes across two groups: those who were randomly selected to receive a grant and those who were not randomly selected to receive a grant. Outcomes of interest will be tracked using existing commercial or administrative data, including eviction court records, eviction filing records, hospitalization records, and data on emergency shelter entry, residential mobility, and financial stability. These outcomes will be supplemented with outcomes collected via the surveys.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Over 74,000 Chicago residents applied for unconditional grants dispersed by the Department of Housing and nearly 6,500 Chicago residents applied for Chicago Resiliency Fund. Applicants were randomly selected to receive a grant through computer randomization. Those randomly selected were then required to provide documentation demonstrating the temporary economic hardship they were experiencing as a result of the pandemic and provide proof of city residency, in the case of DOH’s grant, and proof that their household income is below 60 percent of area median income, in the case of both programs. If randomly selected participants did not meet the eligibility criteria or did not respond to contact by the respective program, additional applicants were randomly selected from the original applicant list. This randomization was conducted by the partners and was not originally implemented for the purposes of evaluation.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
81,395 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
81,395 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
77,945 individuals in the control group who were not selected to receive grants. 1,685 individuals who were randomly selected to receive a grant from DOH, and 691 individuals who indeed received a grant from DOH. 1,761 individuals who were selected by TRP and 1,607 who indeed received a grant from TRP.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Chicago SBS-IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-05-05
IRB Approval Number
IRB20-0623
IRB Name
University of Chicago SBS-IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-11-17
IRB Approval Number
IRB20-1673