Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program – Final Impacts Evaluation

Lisa Sanbonmatsu, U.S. Dep’t of Housing and Urban Development, available here 

“This report presents the long-term impacts of a unique housing mobility demonstration, Moving to Opportunity (MTO), on housing and neighborhood conditions, physical and mental health, economic self-sufficiency, risky and criminal behavior, and educational outcomes. The MTO demonstration was authorized by the U.S. Congress in section 152 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched MTO to test whether offering housing vouchers to families living in public housing projects in high-poverty neighborhoods of large inner cities could improve their lives and the lives of their children by allowing them to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods. The original authorizing legislation for MTO charged HUD with describing “the long-term housing, employment, and educational achievements of the families assisted under the demonstration program.” This report discharges that responsibility. . . . The results show that MTO moves led to sustained improvements in housing quality and in many aspects of the neighborhood’s environment, including neighborhood socioeconomic composition and safety. These MTO-induced changes translate into a number of important improvements in mental and physical health for adults, including lower rates of extreme obesity, diabetes, psychological distress, and major depression. MTO had no detectable impacts on work, earnings, or other economic outcomes for adults. For youth, we see some signs of the same gender difference in responses to MTO as were found in the interim study, which reported on outcomes measured four to seven years after random assignment. One outcome for which we see some hints of beneficial MTO impacts on male youth is a reduction in illegal drug selling.”

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