Exiting HUD Housing Assistance: Insights from the HUD HEARS Study

Posted On: January 18, 2024

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initiated the Health Economic and Residential Stability (HUD HEARS) study in 2019. Their goal was to deepen our understanding of the factors influencing exits from HUD-supported housing. It also looked at the subsequent outcomes for those who leave. This comprehensive study offers insights into the dynamics of housing assistance exits. These exits are a critical aspect of housing policy and community development​​.

You can read the full study below.

HUD HEARS: Collaboration and Methodology

Public Health—Seattle & King County, King County Housing Authority, and Seattle Housing Authority conducted the study. It leveraged a diverse range of administrative data sources. These included demographic data, exit reasons, behavioral health service data, and wage data​​.

Exit Types: A Spectrum of Outcomes

The study classified exits into three categories: positive, negative, and neutral. Positive exits associated with self-sufficiency include increased income, homeownership, and moving to nonsubsidized rentals. The study linked negative exits with adverse life events and poorer outcomes, such as eviction and criminal activity. The results did not identify neutral exits as positive or negative, like health-related exits or moving in with family​​.


Factors Influencing Exits

Key factors associated with exits include demographic aspects like gender and age. They also include economic variables like previous homelessness and behavioral health crises. Interestingly, race played a significant role. American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black, or Latinx people are more likely to have negative exits compared to their White counterparts​​.

Impact on Life Trajectories

The HUD HEARS study not only classified exits from housing assistance into positive, negative, and neutral categories but also provided crucial insights into the outcomes associated with these exits.

  • Exit Types Breakdown: Of the exits analyzed, 13.5% were categorized as positive, 31.6% as negative, and the majority, 54.9%, as neutral. Positive exits led to increased income, homeownership, or moving to nonsubsidized rentals. On the other hand, negative exits included scenarios such as eviction, lease violations, criminal activities, or abandoning the property. Neutral exits were typically related to health or family reasons and were not positive or negative.
  • Consequences of Negative Exits: The high rate of negative exits (31.6%) raises significant concerns, notably as the study showed that one in four households with negative exits experienced homelessness within a year of leaving housing assistance. This is in stark contrast to only 3% of those with a positive exit facing homelessness.
  • Outcomes of Positive Exits: Individuals with positive exits were much less likely to require emergency department services in the year following their exit. They also tended to have higher incomes both before and after leaving the housing assistance program.

Conclusions and Implications of HUD HEARS Study

The HUD HEARS study underscores the complex interplay between housing assistance and broader life outcomes. While positive exits comprise a small portion of all exits, they come with significantly better outcomes. These results highlight the importance of policies and programs that support self-sufficiency and stable transitions out of housing assistance. The study also emphasizes the need for holistic interventions and cross-sector collaborations. The collaborations can address the multifaceted needs of individuals in housing assistance programs​​.


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