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The Housing Initiative at Penn will receive funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

The Housing Initiative at Penn will receive over $600,000 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to study the effects of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program on eviction rates. 

The study seeks to identify which households received ERA funding and how they were chosen, the impact of ERA funding on housing stability, and learn whether ERA impacted market conditions, existing eviction protections, and local program design, according to a press release issued on Jan. 30.

HIP, which was founded in 2021 and housed in PennPraxis, seeks to advise policy makers regarding housing programs through empirical research. 

Katherine Nelson, the director of research at HIP, told the Weitzman School of Design that she hopes this research will shed light on how to effectively reduce eviction rates.

“We know that emergency rental assistance provided a lifeline to millions of low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic," Nelson said in a press release. “We hope to learn what aspects of local programs and legal structures best helped keep people housed, and what lessons we can learn for emergency and other low-income housing programs going forward."

Nelson is one of three co-principal investigators in the project. Lance Freeman, a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor, and Tim Thomas, the director of the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California at Berkeley, will also lead the research team.

Congress appropriated the ERA in two waves to protect tenants from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial wave, ERA1, provided up to $25 billion to households in 2020, and ERA2 provided up to $21.55 billion to households in 2021.

HIP has emerged as a forefront leader in COVID-19 emergency rental assistance policy analysis and research.

HIP has surveyed ERA administrators across the country to understand the creation and performance of ERA programs in partnership with the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the NYU Furman Center. In 2021, HIP received a two-year $500,000 grant from Wells Fargo to study ERA programs' impact on certain states.