Healthy Housing Vouchers


Concept Paper




Open Communities Alliance is working with a team of Connecticut partners and an advisory committee of national experts to initiate a pilot project designed to ensure that low-income families with children experiencing environmentally-triggered health challenges have housing choices in neighborhoods more likely to produce positive health outcomes.

Much research has demonstrated that moves to healthier environments can make profound differences to health outcomes for low-income children. Additional National Institutes of Health-supported studies are also ongoing, undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, that put a particular emphasis on outcomes for children who suffer from Asthma. This Connecticut pilot project is not strictly intended to show that families’ health outcomes will improve but rather to demonstrate an effective program design to inform eligible families about housing choices and help those who are interested in moving do so.

The project will employ three strategies to identify households who currently receive government housing vouchers and have a member under the age of 18 who is experiencing health issues related to environmental conditions, with the likely focus being Asthma. These strategies include connecting to families through doctors in health clinics assisting low-income populations, through school-based programs in high poverty school settings, and through community health workers.

Selected families will be connected to a set of resources designed to ensure they are fully informed about their housing options and can make moves to healthier neighborhoods at no cost. Intensive “mobility counseling” will provide families with full information about the importance of environmental conditions on children’s health, education, and more, as well as identify potential rental units, and liaise with new communities. Program participants will also be provided with security deposit assistance and funds to cover moving expenses.

Combined, the research connecting moves to improved health outcomes elsewhere in the country and this Connecticut pilot demonstrating effective and replicable program design will put forth a roadmap for implementing a cost-effective health-focused housing intervention that produces positive health outcomes for children while at the same time addressing segregation and increasing access to a web of opportunity structures.


Advisory Committee

We are fortunate to have the following national experts as members of the advisory committee for this project:


Stefanie A. DeLuca teaches sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Her current research uses interdisciplinary frameworks and multiple methodologies to examine the sociology of education, urban sociology, neighborhoods, and social inequality in the life course. Her research also involves sociological considerations of education and housing policy. She is interested in rigorous research designs for causal inference using both experimental and non-experimental data, as well as the use of qualitative work to understand causality and the effectiveness of social policies.

Her major areas of research have focused on the determinants of educational attainment; the role of noncognitive skills; the transitions to work for young people who do not attend college; the role of housing, neighborhood and social context on youth and family outcomes; patterns of youth residential mobility, and how mobility relates to changes in family, school, and neighborhood context. She is the recipient of a William T. Grant Foundation Scholars award for her research on housing. Dr. Deluca received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University in 2002 and bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Chicago.




Elizabeth (Betsy) Julian is president of the Dallas-based Inclusive Communities Project. From 1993 to 1996, she worked as Deputy General Counsel for Civil Rights & Litigation, later as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her pre-HUD experience includes 20 years of practice of poverty and civil rights law in Texas, where she represented primarily low-income clients in cases involving housing discrimination, voting rights, municipal services discrimination and indigent health care. From 1988-90 she was executive director of Legal Services of North Texas, and helped found the Texas Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Ms. Julian is one of the primary architects of ICP's legal challenge to the state of Texas' allocations of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which was decided in ICP's favor in June 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court. 


Dolores_Acevedo-Garcia.png   Demetria McCain serves as the Vice President & Deputy Director for the Inclusive Communities Project, an affordable fair housing organization that works for the creation and maintenance of thriving racially and economically inclusive communities, expansion of fair and affordable housing opportunities for low income families, and redress for policies and practices that perpetuate the harmful effects of discrimination and segregation. One of her duties includes oversight of ICP’s Mobility Assistance Program. A native if Dallas, Ms. McCain is a graduate of Arts Magnet H.S., NYU, Brooklyn College and Howard University School of Law. 

Dr. Craig Pollack is an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He holds a joint appointment in oncology as well as health policy and management, and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His area of clinical expertise is in internal medicine. 

Dr. Pollack serves as co-director of the General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program.

He received his M.D. and completed his residency at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. He performed a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program. Dr. Pollack also earned an M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.H.S. from the University of California at Berkeley.

One of Dr. Pollack’s primary areas of research is the nexus between the social determinants of health and housing policy. He currently co-leads an NIH-funded project to investigate whether housing mobility is linked with improvements in children’s asthma and is principle investigator of a project to link the Moving To Opportunity social experiment with data on health care utilization (funded by RWJF). Previous research has leveraged a natural experiment to study the impact of mixed income housing on social networks and health (funded by the MacArthur Foundation) and the links between home ownership, foreclosure and health.


Megan Sandel, MD MPH, is the Associate Director of the GROW clinic at Boston Medical Center, a Principal Investigator with Children’s Health Watch, and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.

She is the former pediatric medical director of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless program, and is a nationally recognized expert on housing and child health. In 1998, she published, with other doctors at Boston Medical Center, DOC4Kids — a national report on how housing affected child health. Over the course of her career, Dr. Sandel has written numerous peer reviewed scientific articles and papers on this subject. In 2001, she became the first medical director of the founding site for medical-legal partnerships, Medical-Legal Partnership-Boston, and from 2007-2016 she served as the Medical Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.


Barbara Samuels is the Managing Attorney of the Fair Housing Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. The project’s mission is to use policy advocacy and litigation to expand housing choices and the supply of assisted housing in integrated neighborhoods throughout the Baltimore region. Ms. Samuels has been active in a range of housing and community organizations in Baltimore, and before joining the ACLU in 1993, was a legal services housing attorney in Baltimore and Southwest Virginia for 13 years.

Ms. Samuels was the primary architect and advocate behind the landmark litigation against the U.S. Department of Housing in Thompson v. HUD that resulted in a multimillion dollar settlement and the creation of the nation’s flagship mobility counseling program which has assisted over 4,000 low income families access higher opportunity communities using the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Dolores_Acevedo-Garcia.png   Brian Smedley is co-founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, a project that connects research, policy analysis, and communications with on-the-ground activism to advance health equity. In this role, Dr. Smedley oversees several initiatives designed to improve opportunities for good health for people of color and undo the health consequences of racism. From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Smedley was Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, a research and policy organization focused on addressing the needs of communities of color.

Philip Tegeler was appointed as PRRAC's Executive Director beginning in January of 2004. Mr. Tegeler has worked as a civil rights lawyer for over 30 years, specializing in fair housing and educational equity policy and litigation. At PRRAC, Mr. Tegeler supports our housing policy, AFFH, and housing mobility work, and also helps lead the work of the National Coalition on School Diversity, which PRRAC cofounded in 2009.

Mr. Tegeler is the author of numerous publications, including "Connecting Families to Opportunity: The Next Generation of Housing Mobility Policy," in Brian Smedley and Alan Jenkins, eds., All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time, (The New Press, 2007); "The Persistence of Segregation in Government Housing Programs," in Xavier de Souza Briggs, ed., The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America (Brookings Institution Press 2005); "Transforming Section 8: Using Federal Housing Subsidies to Promote Individual Housing Choice and Desegregation," 30 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 451 (1995) (co-author with Michael Hanley and Judith Liben); "Housing Segregation and Local Discretion," 3 Journal of Law and Policy 209 (1994), and Inclusionary Zoning Moves Downtown (coeditor) (Planners Press, 1985). Additional articles have appeared in Clearinghouse Review, Land Use Law, Journal of Legal Education, Journal of Affordable Housing Law, Shelterforce, Poverty & Race, and Planning Magazine.










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