Fair housing law is an essential tool to achieving racial and economic integration and realizing the attendant benefits for all types of communities. This brief draws on structured interviews conducted by Reinvestment Fund and the University of Pennsylvania with former officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), local housing officials in New Orleans, Houston, Kansas City (MO), Indianapolis, and Philadelphia, and fair housing experts and advocates. The interviews explored what was successful about how localities addressed fair housing through the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH)—introduced in the Obama administration and rolled back during the Trump administration— improvements that would make it more useful if implemented again in some form, and areas for enhancement beyond the scope of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and planning process.
Since 2014, Reinvestment Fund’s Fund for Quality (FFQ) and Early Childhood Education Loan Fund (ECE-LF) have been making investments to support the expansion of high-quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) opportunities throughout Philadelphia. From 2014 to 2019, the FFQ and ECE-LF have supported 51 projects at 46 unique centers, which have created or preserved 3,246 ECE high-quality seats across the city. These seats serve a diverse population of high-need families across the city. They have observably reduced gaps between the supply and demand for high-quality child care in their communities and have encouraged other ECE providers to expand the number of high-quality seats in their facilities. The findings presented in this Impact Brief suggest that FFQ/ECE-LF investments are reaching their intended populations and are having a substantial impact on the availability of high-quality ECE options for Philadelphia families.
Reinvestment Fund conducted analysis of Philadelphia Municipal Court records for debt collection cases that were filed in Small Claims court between January 2016 and April 2020. In total, 90,809 case records were obtained for analysis. The study estimated the racial and ethnic composition of defendants, enabling an examination of differences in filing patterns, case amounts, and outcomes by these characteristics. The efforts also included interviews with defendants, which shed light on events preceding debt cases, the court experience, and impacts beyond the case. The study was commissioned by Community Legal Services.
Reinvestment Fund’s research report provides new insight into how many Black and Hispanic renters in Philadelphia face an eviction filing compared to other racial and ethnic groups. While previous research has documented the persistent, statistically significant effect of Census tract-level racial composition on filing volume, this is the first look at the racial and ethnic characteristics of the universe of residential eviction defendants.
The study, which examined all residential eviction filings from 2018-2019, found that Black households are more likely to experience eviction filings, disproportionate to their presence among Philadelphia’s renters. Even when Black people live in predominantly White or mixed-race areas, they are more likely subject to an eviction filing by their landlord. Hispanic residents are also at a disadvantage to Whites, particularly when they live in areas where they make up a smaller share of the population. The report also shows that while most evictions are filed outside of gentrifying areas, Black and Hispanic renters are more likely to be over-represented in eviction filings in neighborhoods that evince signs of gentrification such as Point Breeze, Brewerytown, East Kensington, and Mifflin Square. At the same time, the Black and Hispanic populations have declined in those areas.
Reinvestment Fund and its partners – the City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families, Public Health Management Corporation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey – surveyed parents who have used or intend to use childcare in Philadelphia.
The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of what parents were doing for childcare before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, how that has changed, and what their priorities are as they contemplate returning their children to childcare. Findings from this survey will inform policymakers’ and childcare providers’ plans and processes for reopening childcare facilities.
A research brief by Reinvestment Fund and the Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP) that examines the experiences and perspectives of residential rental property owners and managers in Philadelphia. The brief examines challenges that landlords faced—including how they dealt with evictions—prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; new or increased difficulties stemming from the pandemic; and landlords’ engagement with and attitudes towards programs aimed at stabilizing tenants in rental housing. The brief also presents considerations for policymakers as they contemplate both short-term and long-term strategies to reduce housing instability.
In 2019, the city of Mount Vernon partnered with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Tolemi, and Reinvestment Fund through the Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement initiative (Cities RISE) to begin implementing a strategic code enforcement system guided by robust data and market analytics. The lessons offered in this case study of Mount Vernon can help inform other communities looking to leverage data into meaningful operational and policy changes.
In 2019 Policy Solutions partnered with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) to conduct a study of historical patterns of homeownership rates for different racial/ethnic groups throughout the 21st century. The study findings highlight the ongoing persistence of gaps in White and non-White homeownership throughout Pennsylvania.
Reinvestment Fund completed a study of the City of Cleveland’s residential tax abatement program. The study examined 15 years of abatement activity to identify patterns of where abatement activity has been most concentrated, to understand the fiscal impacts the abatement has had on local tax revenues, and to identify opportunities to update the program in response to contemporary market conditions in the city. The recommendations presented in the report provide a range of viable paths for the City to consider in making adjustments to the tax abatement program – adjustments that will help support the equitable development goals within the City’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.
Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant Court processes approximately 20,000 filings each year. Many of those cases are not contested by the tenant and the landlord is given legal authority to take possession of their unit back. However, nearly half of the remaining cases settle with a Judgment by Agreement (JBA) – a process designed to facilitate a resolution of the dispute between the landlord and tenant.
Reinvestment Fund’s research has identified a number of positive and negative attributes to the process and resulting agreements. In this Brief, Reinvestment Fund reviews the learnings from an analysis of JBAs as well as interviews with tenants and landlords (and their respective attorneys) and court observation.