WI21-Q1: Access to a local public housing authority office and SSI participation



Housing assistance is an important benefit for low-income populations, though these programs are under-funded such than many eligible individuals do not receive benefits. At the same time, not every county has a local brick and mortar Public Housing Authority (PHA). For individuals in these counties, they sometimes have to use PHAs in distant counties or at the state housing agency in order to apply for benefits. This project will ask two questions. First, do counties with physical PHA offices differ from those without, and if so, how? While it is clear that urban areas have at least one—and often multiple—local PHAs with physical offices, non-urban areas have more variation in the presence of a physical PHA office. I thus explore the extent to which non-urban counties with and without physical PHA offices differ on the following equity-based dimensions: racial composition, age, education, and population density. Second, I consider that housing assistance and SSI largely serve similar populations. Prior work has established that physical offices reduce the cost of applying for SSI (Desphande and Li, 2019). I build upon this by asking if having a physical PHA offices in one’s county correlates with SSI participation.


Project Year