Expanding Housing Choices for HUD-Assisted Families (April 1996, 35 p.)
Expanding Housing Choices for HUD-Assisted Families, the first in a series of biennial reports to Congress, describes initial progress and preliminary results in implementing the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration -- an innovative experiment in helping low-income families living in concentrated poverty obtain housing in low-poverty communities throughout the metropolitan area.
Implemented at five demonstration sites -- Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York -- MTO provides tenant-based rental assistance and supportive counseling services to help families use Section 8 assistance to move out of high-poverty inner-city areas and into low-poverty neighborhoods. Two years into the program, almost one-half (47.9 percent) of the MTO experimental families and more than one-fourth (28.9 percent) of the comparison group families had located and leased housing. Experimental families receive Section 8 rental assistance usable only in low-poverty areas and are provided with counseling assistance, while the comparison group receives regular Section 8 assistance with no geographical restrictions or additional counseling.
MTO applicants are similar demographically and socioeconomically to their public and assisted housing neighbors -- the average MTO applicant is an African-American or Hispanic woman, 37 years old, with two children. More than two-thirds of the applicants receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). More than 85 percent of MTO applicants listed crime as their primary (54.8 percent) or secondary (30.8 percent) reason for wanting to move.
MTO's carefully controlled experimental design and detailed records on its implementation promise to provide a wealth of reliable data and policy insights on assisted housing mobility.