Topic for the 2017 Policy Solutions Challenge: Providing Affordable and Safe Housing for Low Income Workers
Low income workers - persons earning $20 per hour or less - are a vital part of the labor supply in major urban areas. Jobs held by low income workers include those in restaurants, transportation, healthcare, child care, construction, security, sanitation, and building maintenance. These manual labor positions cannot be outsourced or supplied remotely. Cities would cease to function without a large supply of low income workers.
Low income workers increasingly cannot afford housing in urban areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York City and Washington, DC. This trend is the focus of attention by such organizations as the National Low Income Housing Coalition as well as a wide range of analysts in think tanks and universities. As housing prices push such workers farther and farther away from the urban core, the cost of commuting becomes a considerable barrier to taking low wage jobs in cities. Some families have accepted dangerously crowded housing conditions in order to live near where work is available. For example, a recent explosion and fire at an apartment complex just outside of Washington, DC damaged or destroyed 26 single-family units but displaced 55 families. Other low income workers have tried to find employment in suburbs of cities to reduce housing and commuting costs, or re-located away from the most expensive urban areas altogether.
Teams participating in the 2017 Policy Solutions Challenge will develop and analyze policy options for increasing the supply of affordable, safe housing in major urban areas for low income workers over the next ten years (2018 to 2027). The teams are allowed complete discretion in framing the problem definition as part of the analysis. If the recommended policies include government interventions in housing markets, the analysis must address the likely positive and negative consequences. All estimates of policy effects should span the ten years of 2018-2027. Additional instructions and requirements are found under The Competition on the main menu above.