Segmented Information, Segregated Outcomes: Housing Affordability and Neighborhood Representation on a Voucher-Focused Online Housing Platform and Three Mainstream Alternatives
Published in Housing Policy Debate, 2022
Online platforms have become an integral component of the housing search process in the United States and other developed contexts, but recent studies have demonstrated that these platforms offer uneven representation of different neighborhoods. In this study, we use listings covering the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to assess how GoSection8, a platform uniquely focused on affordable housing and voucher-assisted households, compares with the “mainstream” alternatives of Craigslist, Apartments.com, and Zillow. Through descriptive and regression analyses of the housing and neighborhoods represented on these websites and a new way of measuring the distribution of rental housing opportunities, we advance a multisource perspective on the role of online information exchanges in housing search processes. Specifically, we find that GoSection8 and mainstream alternatives capture spatially segmented information about housing markets, with GoSection8 ads representing units that are more affordable but also more constrained to higher-poverty neighborhoods where assisted households are already concentrated. The findings suggest that disadvantaged households are potentially funneled toward high-poverty, isolated neighborhoods by the operation of stratified information systems available for online housing searches.
Recommended citation: Hess, C., Walter, R., Kennedy, I., Acolin, A., Ramiller, A., Crowder, K. (2022). Segmented Information, Segregated Outcomes: Housing Affordability and Neighborhood Representation on a Voucher-Focused Online Housing Platform and Three Mainstream Alternatives https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2022.2133548