The United States government spends approximately $20 billion each year on the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental assistance to low-income families. One major goal of the program is to expand residential choice and give low-income families access to higher opportunity areas. However, most of the 2.2 million families receiving housing vouchers currently live in relatively high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods. Why is this the case, and how can the Housing Choice Voucher Program help families “move to opportunity” if they wish to do so?
The Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) project, a collaboration between academic researchers and public housing authorities, seeks to answer these questions. Starting in April 2018, we partnered with the Seattle and King County Public Housing Authorities to test a new program designed to reduce the barriers that families face in moving to higher opportunity neighborhoods. The program provided housing search assistance, connections to landlords, and financial support to voucher recipients. We measured the program’s impact using a randomized evaluation.
The housing mobility services provided in Seattle and King County dramatically increased the share of families who moved to high-opportunity areas. Given the success of the program, Opportunity Insights (OI) is interested in helping scale this model in other communities across the country. As part of the CMTO project, OI is seeking to partner with communities interested in expanding access to opportunity neighborhoods for low-income families with children.