Maya Brennan with the Center for Housing Policy has published a fascinating new report entitled “Strengthening Economic Self-Sufficiency Programs: How Housing Authorities Can Use Behavioral and Cognitive Science to Improve Programs
.” Brennan uses concepts from the fields of behavioral and cognitive science to evaluate strategies public housing authorities (PHAs) and other providers of housing assistance can utilize to better support their low-income participants. This work has the potential to improve the efficacy of programs designed to support increased earnings and broader upward mobility for recipients of housing assistance.
Research from the field of cognitive science helps explain the ways that experiences with “frequent or extended episodes of poverty, trauma, and social bias” affect the decision-making, long-term planning, and other abilities of families receiving rental assistance. Incorporating an awareness of this dynamic into program design at the PHA level therefore can help families participating in programs accomplish their goals and achieve self-sufficiency.
Specifically, the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program
is well-situated to tackle these issues because it has design elements that already reflect an understanding of what kind of support is needed to help families get on track.