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Cross-Site Syntheses

Initial Findings

 

 

DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE

HUD Documents

Feins, Judith D., Mary Joel Holin, and Antony A. Phipps.  Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration: Program Operations Manual.”  Accession #7468. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 1994.

Feins, Judith D., Susan Popkin, and Debra McInnis.  Counseling in the Moving to Opportunity Demonstration Program.”  Accession #8784. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 1997.

Goering, John M. et al. “Expanding Housing Choices for HUD-Assisted Families: Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration, First Biennial Report to Congress.”  Accession #7157. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 1996.

Goering, John M. et al. “Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program: Current Status and Initial Findings.”  Accession #8771. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 1999.

Miller, Suzanne M., and Kristin A. Moore.  “Rationales for Child and Family Outcomes Questions for the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration, Participant Baseline Survey: Part II.”  Accession #8788. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 1994.

Popkin, Susan J., Laura E. Harris and Mary K. Cunningham. Families in Transition: A Qualitative Analysis of the MTO Experience. Washington, D.C.: HUDUSER, 2002.

* Note that documents not available online can be ordered from HUDUSER at 1-800-245-2691.

Other publications

Briggs, Xavier and Elisabeth Sara Jacobs. “Qualitative Research on ‘Moving to Opportunity’: Report on a Conference.” A report prepared for the Fannie Mae Foundation, August 2002.

Del Conte, Alessandra and Jeffrey Kling. Synthesis of MTO Research on Self-Sufficiency, Safety and Health, and Behavior and Delinquency.” An article in Poverty Research News from January-February 2001.

Feins, Judith D., Holin, Mary Joel, Phipps, Antony A., Magri, Debra.Implementation Assistance and Evaluation for the Moving to Opportunity Demonstration: Final Report.” A report prepared for HUD, April 1995.

Goering, John, Judith D. Feins, and Todd M. Richardson. A Cross-Site Analysis of Initial Moving to Opportunity Demonstration Results.”  Journal of Housing Research, Volume 13, Issue 1.

Leventhal, T. & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000) “The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence upon child and adolescent outcomes.” Psychological Bulletin, 126, 309-337.

Pettit, Becky, and Sara McLanahan. Social Dimension of Moving to Opportunity.” An article in Poverty Research News from January-February 2001.

Shroder, Mark. Locational Constraint, Housing Counseling, and Successful Lease-up in a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment.”  Journal of Urban Economics, Vol.51, No.2, March 2002, 315-338.
 

SUMMARY

The Department of Housing and Urban Development report “Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program: Current Status and Initial Findings -- September 1999” describes the first five years of the MTO program. Over 4,500 families had participated in the program at the time the report was released.

This report is an attempt to aggregate data from the five MTO demonstration sites. The MTO was implemented by autonomous local agencies and organizations in five metropolitan areas, with unique contexts and distinct sample populations, and thus aggregations may mask important cross-site variation. With that caveat, HUD outlines the early results as follows. (Facts and tables shown below are drawn directly from the HUD report, unless otherwise noted.)

Who Joined MTO?

The typical family entering the MTO program consisted of a minority woman and her three children:

  • Almost two-thirds were African American, almost one-third Hispanic.
  • Over 90 percent were single-parent families.
  • Three-quarters were primarily dependent on welfare benefits for income.
  • Roughly 20 percent were employed at baseline.

The families who joined the MTO are significantly different than the general public housing population in several ways. MTO household heads are slightly younger, more often female, and more likely to be Hispanic. MTO families also have slightly lower incomes, are less likely to be employed, and have higher rates of welfare usage than the general public housing population, suggesting that MTO has not taken only the most successful public housing families.

The main motivations for wanting to move were crime and fear:

  • Over three-quarters of the applicants said getting away from drugs and gangs was the most important reason for wanting to move, and they reported high rates of criminal victimization.
  • Nearly half of those interviewed mentioned getting a bigger or better apartment or having better schools for their children as a reason for moving, but these were clearly less important motivating factors.

 

Impact of MTO on Housing Moves

MTO treatment families who moved were significantly more likely to move to low-poverty neighborhoods than were families in the Section 8 group. Yet they also had lower lease-up rates, meaning that more MTO families remained in their (high-poverty) origin neighborhoods than those families receiving standard Section 8 vouchers.

As Table 7 from the 1999 HUD report below shows, the impacts of MTO (as opposed to standard Section 8 vouchers) on the destination neighborhoods of those participants who chose to move are dramatic. The vast majority (90.5%) of MTO treatment group families who moved went to neighborhoods with poverty rates of less than 10 percent, while none moved to tracts with poverty levels above 40%. In contrast, those families receiving standard Section 8 vouchers tended to move to moderate- (70.2%) or high- (10%) poverty neighborhoods.
 
 

Table 7.  Number of Families by Poverty Characteristics of MTO Move Locations

All Sites

Poverty Characteristics of Destination Locations

Group

Under 10%

10-39.9%

40% or over

Total

MTO Treatment

743

78

0

821

 

90.5%

9.5%

0.0%

100.0%

Section 8

86

511

131

728

 

11.8%

70.2%

18.0%

100.0%

Total

829

589

131

1,549

 

53.5%

38.0%

8.5%

100.0%

The 1997 canvassing effort by HUD and Abt Associates garnered a 92% response rate, though the sample size was smaller than in the data on initial moves (See Report Table 10 below). The later effort showed that 72% of the MTO treatment group families who moved between 1994 and the end of 1996 were still in low poverty neighborhoods in 1997. Very few (2.6%) had moved to high-poverty areas, while about a quarter had moved to areas that were between 10 and 40 percent poor. Among Section 8 families, the percentage living in areas between 10 and 40 percent poor was virtually the same as in the data on initial moves. However, a slightly higher percentage of those living in low-poverty areas and a slightly lower percentage in high-poverty areas indicates some dynamism in this group over time.
 

Table 10.  Number of Families by Poverty Characteristics of MTO Current Locations

All Sites

Poverty Characteristics of Destination Locations

Group

Under 10%

10-39.9%

40% or over

Total

MTO Treatment

357

123

13

493

 

72.4%

24.9%

2.6%

100.0%

Section 8

63

293

58

414

 

15.2%

70.8%

14.0%

100.0%

Total

420

416

71

97

 

46.3%

45.9%

7.8%

100.0%

SOURCE: 1997 MTO canvass. SAMPLE: All MTO families randomly assigned through December 31, 1996.
 

Though the lease-up rates for MTO families were significantly higher than the 25% rate documented in the Gautreaux program, MTO families were still less likely to lease up than the Section 8 group
 

Table 1.  Final Lease-Up Rates for Experimental and

Section 8 Control Groups for MTO Sites

Site

Experimental Group (Percent Leased-Up)

Section 8 Group (Percent Leased-Up)

Dates

Baltimore

58

72

9/95-6/97

Boston

46

48

12/94-6/98

Chicago

34

66

3/95-10/98

Los Angeles

62

75

4/95-3/99

New York

45

49

4/95-6/98

All Sites

47

60

12/94-3/99

Impacts of Counseling

  • Counseling services significantly improved a family's ability to lease-up under MTO.
  • Families' demographic and socioeconomic characteristics influenced both the likelihood that they would pursue counseling and the effect of counseling on lease-up rates. For example, on average having only one child made it easier for a mother to find and lease-up a unit, while a higher income decreased chances of leasing-up.
  • Though site and market conditions affected a family's chance of leasing up through MTO, the positive impacts of counseling on leasing-up remained significant even when these characteristics were taken into account.
  • A question for future studies involves whether the counseling costs are offset by reductions in the use of public funds for housing assistance and welfare payments among experimental group families.

 

Opposition to the Program

  • Though there was some community opposition in Baltimore suburban communities to lease-ups by MTO families, there have not been any other documented indications of concern by residents of the low-poverty MTO destination neighborhoods.

CITATION

Brennan, Brian.  “Across-Site.”  Moving to Opportunity Research.  Created August 30, 2000.  Last modified February 25, 2004.  http://www.nber.org/mtopublic/across-site.htm

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