Featured housing research by University of Chicago faculty and students

Student Research

Audrey Baer, MPP

Audrey is working with the Chicago Community Trust, supporting a project called “Advancing Equity: Closing the Homeownership Wealth Gap.” In partnership with Metropolitian Planning Council, Folded Map Project, Chicago Bungalow Association, and several other organizations, we are convening policymakers, funders, residents, and housing organizations three times, from October through May, to identify the greatest challenges for these actors, gather their feedback, and use it to inform the Trust’s strategy regarding Homeownership moving forward.

Lauren Beard, Sociology PhD

Lauren utilizes mixed methods to better understand how to connect youth with needed supports upon exiting services – a process that is often marked by homelessness, mental health crises, and more. Accordingly, she combines national-level administrative data on youth outcomes with longitudinal interviews with youth aging out in Illinois.

Lizzie DePentu, MSW

Lizzie is working with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Full Circle Communities, a nonprofit developer and operator of affordable and permanent supportive housing (PSH). She is focused on the development and implementation of housing interventions with a focus on PSH and housing voucher programs. At Full Circle Communities, She works with the resident services team to evaluate their service portfolio and use findings from resident focus groups to inform recommendations for development, operations, and service provision. At Chapin Hall she is supporting an evaluation study of a housing voucher program that connects Head Start families with vouchers and wraparound services. At both organizations, her work prioritizes best practices for service provision, increasing housing access, and improving well-being to meet the expressed needs of individuals and families. She hopes to build on existing work in PSH that recognizes lived-expertise and prioritizes self-determination and person-centered approaches to housing and services.

Noah Fischer, MPP

Noah is conducting an investigation into Vacant Unit Taxes and their revenue generating potential. Specifically, Noah is utilizing the most recent Census data to estimate the number of properties that would be subject to these taxes in both San Francisco and Oakland, California in order to determine the potential tax revenue that can be generated assuming all properties were taxed at their appropriate level. Finally, Noah is using these estimates to explore the potential new housing construction that could take place using these revenue streams.

Marissa Jones, MPP

Marissa is researching the lead exposure (specifically through lead pipes) throughout Chicago. There are programs, such as the Equity Lead Service Line Replacement Program, that have been ineffective. Marissa is researching the landscape of the problem and possible ways the City of Chicago can effectively ameliorate this issue.

James Karner, MPP

James has been supporting a few housing related initiatives through his internship at the Chicago Community Trust. To date, he has assisted in conducting data analysis and summarized survey data for 3C (Connecting Capital and Community) in their efforts to create and support a pipeline of community residents who are first-time homebuyers in purchasing homes in the Humboldt Park and East Garfield Park Chicago Neighborhoods. He is also working closely with another initiative at his internship through Elevated Chicago to identify and review data related to the effects of an Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD) ordinance on housing costs.

Angela Wyse

People experiencing homelessness have worse health outcomes than the housed population, but the severity of these disparities has not been examined at the national scale. To fill this gap, Angela’s project aims to provide the first-ever national estimates of mortality for the U.S. homeless population by linking data from the 2010 Census to national all-cause mortality data. She also plans to examine the causal effect of gaining access to Medicaid on mortality using state-level variation in the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s Medicaid expansion provisions. A key aspect of this project centers on understanding how mortality and the effects of Medicaid differ by race, age, disability status, gender, and Hispanic ethnicity, as well as differences by the extent of individuals’ connections to the labor market, safety net, and family. This work will help illuminate the links between homelessness and health and inform policies to improve quality of life.


Chicago Housing Stability Study

The Inclusive Economy Lab is currently partnering with the Chicago Department of Housing, Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, and The Resurrection Project to better understand the impact of rental and cash assistance programs aimed at averting a housing crisis. Read more. 


The Chicago Department of Housing and University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice to Examine the Role of Government in Creating Wealth-Building Opportunities for Marginalized Communities Through Homeownership

This research will inform the department and others on what governments are doing to address and reverse decades of disinvestment and predatory housing practices that have prevented communities of color from building generational wealth through homeownership. Read more. 


South Shore community organizations, with support from UChicago, share comprehensive local housing data and policy recommendations with residents

After nearly a year of parcel-level surveys and data analysis, three South Shore community organizations—in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) and with technical assistance from Harris School of Public Policy students—have released a report that aims to empower local residents to better understand their community’s housing landscape and advocate for community-driven policies that help low- and moderate-income community members maintain their housing and otherwise address the unique housing challenges South Shore faces, while also building on the community’s strengths and opportunities. Read more.  


Liquidity versus Wealth in Household Debt Obligations: Evidence from Housing Policy in the Great Recession

Peter Ganong 

We exploit variation in mortgage modifications to disentangle the impact of reducing long-term obligations with no change in short-term payments (“wealth”), and reducing short-term payments with no change in long-term obligations (“liquidity”). Using regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences research designs with administrative data measuring default and consumption, we find that principal reductions that increase wealth without affecting liquidity have no effect, while maturity extensions that increase only liquidity have large effects. This suggests that liquidity drives default and consumption decisions for borrowers in our sample and that distressed debt restructurings can be redesigned with substantial gains to borrowers, lenders, and taxpayers. Read more.  


How Do Changes in Housing Voucher Design Affect Rent and Neighborhood Quality?

Peter Ganong 

US housing voucher holders pay their landlord a fraction of household income and the government pays the rest, up to a rent ceiling. We study how two types of changes to the rent ceiling affect landlords and tenants. A policy that makes vouchers more generous across a metro area benefits landlords through increased rents, with minimal impact on neighborhood and unit quality. A second policy that indexes rent ceilings to neighborhood rents leads voucher holders to move into higher quality neighborhoods with lower crime, poverty, and unemployment.