Nov 14, 2011

NYU Wagner Student's Essay Selected as a Finalist for GovLoop/NASPAA Scholarship

A thought-provoking essay by NYU Wagner student Neil P. Reilly, positing a novel way to strengthen publicly subsidized housing arrangements, has been selected as a finalist for the GovLoop/NASPAA scholarship.

A Master of Public Administration candidate with a specialization in public policy analysis, Neil is potentially eligible for a scholarship award of as much as $2,500. His essay will be among 15 pieces judged in the final round of selection soon. The judges are from GovLoop, the online community for government, and NASPAA (the National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration). Well done, Neil!

Neil's essay, "A Boost to Rentals and Public Housing," argues for creation of a federal rental insurance program. This new type of insurance would protect a tenant, and, indirectly, his or her public or private landlord, against the tenant's unexpected drop in household income due to loss of a job, say, or a marriage breakup. The tenant would pay a modest premium for this insurance, and from then on it would function like unemployment insurance - available to use during a difficult patch.

Although public-housing tenants' rents are adjusted on a sliding scale linked to income levels, Neil notes there can be a lag in the provision of rent adjustments, or a lengthy legal dispute between building owner and tenant. Housing insurance, as envisioned by Neil, would reduce housing dislocations and the dynamic of dependency between landlords and tenants in both public housing developments and other forms of publicly subsidized housing.

"Federal rental insurance," he writes, "would mitigate the unfairness of denying other housing to some households. It would avoid the game of ‘hot potato' played between landlords, which adds significant inefficiencies and costs to the process of finding subsidized housing. These costs, currently borne by the tenant, would be reduced. Important externalities, specifically the health, jobs and education outcomes of tenants, would also receive vital boosts."

As he works toward his MPA at Wagner, Neil is serving as Book Reviewer for the Wagner Review. He has experience working in nonprofit grant writing and outreach, most recently at New York Foundation for the Arts. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he is an avid writer and a musician, resides in Brooklyn, and says his coffee table is stacked with newspapers and magazines.


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