Collections > Master's Papers > Department of City and Regional Planning > A Health Impact Assessment of the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program in Durham, North Carolina
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Available after 12 May, 2020

There is a growing body of research connecting the built environment, such as housing and transportation, to health outcomes. Although there are obvious connections between some of these topics, such as the way indoor and outdoor air quality may affect respiratory health, there are also less established pathways between policy decisions and the health of a population. A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is one way to determine the potential health impacts of a proposed policy, project, or program before implementation in order to recommend changes that will protect and promote health. HIAs can be an especially useful tool to use when a new policy, project, or program may have substantial impacts on a vulnerable population, such as tenants of public housing. Many housing authorities throughout the United States are beginning to implement the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program, a federal program aimed at improving America’s stock of public housing by converting current public housing units to project-based Section 8 assistance. Through the RAD Program, public housing authorities can position themselves to tap into private sources of funding for real estate, including bank loans, bond proceeds, and tax-credit equity, that can be used to renovate or build new units. The RAD Program removes the current funding restrictions faced by public housing authorities. The RAD Program has been expanding rapidly over the last several years; however, very little research has been done to determine the impacts this program will have on current public housing residents. The Durham Housing Authority is planning to convert its entire portfolio of public housing units to project-based Section 8 assistance under the RAD Program and is interested in identifying ways this conversion may impact tenants, both positively and negatively. Therefore, the purpose of this HIA was to determine how the RAD Program will impact the health of Durham Housing Authority residents and to recommend ways to protect and promote health for this population.