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The MTO demonstration provides an opportunity for residents of public and assisted housing projects to move to better neighborhoods. What types of families pursue such an opportunity? What motivates them to leave the subsidized projects in which they live? The average MTO applicant is an African American or Hispanic woman, 37 years old, with two children (see Exhibit 2). Almost one in five MTO families have some employment income, and two thirds receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

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MTO applicants may be slightly older and appear somewhat more likely to be working than other families in the projects where they live, based on comparisons of Baltimore MTO applicants to other MTO-eligible residents of their projects. Preliminary data show that almost one in four MTO applicants in Baltimore was working, compared to only 13 percent of non-applicants. However, statistical analysis of these differences suggests that they are very weak predictors of who will choose to participate in MTO."

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Although MTO applicants are
very much like their neighbors
in terms of demographic and
socio-economic attributes,
they do appear to differ in
one important respect
of crime. Baseline survey
data indicate that crime
victimization rates among MTO
applicants are dramatically
higher than among public
housing residents generally.
Nearly half of MTO applicants
(47.8 percent) said that they
had been a victim of crime
within the last six months.10
In contrast, a recent HUD
survey found that only 5.4
percent of residents in the
largest PHAs reported being
crime victims in the last six
months. 12
In New York City,
only 5.9 percent of all public
housing residents interviewed
reported being crime victims
in the last six months,

compared to 47.7 percent of
MTO applicants.

MTO Applicants' Fear Crime,
Drugs, and Gangs

A Vietnamese-American mother of three young children in Los Angeles said that she was "desperate" to get out of public housing because of crime and drugs. A stray bullet shattered her window one night, and as she explained, "Our children are not safe at any time in the projects."

A child from a New York MTO family came home from school recently with a bullet-hole in her backpack; she had not even been aware of the shooting that left a bullet inches from her body. Her school books fortunately protected her from harm.

The fear of crime, and more significantly the experience of crime, appears to be a major factor in families' decisions to participate in the MTO demonstration. When asked why they wanted to move away from the projects in which they live, the vast majority of MTO applicants cited the fear of crime, gangs, and drugs. Exhibit 3 summarizes families' primary and secondary reasons for applying to participate in the MTO demonstration. More than half (54.8 percent) listed crime as their primary reason, and another 30.8 percent listed it as their secondary


Better housing conditions and better schools are also important reasons why families choose to participate in the MTO demonstration. More than half of the applicants (57.3 percent) said that moving to a better house or apartment was either their first or second reason for applying, and 39.3 percent said that they wanted better schools for their children. Only 6.5 percent of MTO applicants said that a job-related concern was their primary or secondary reason for moving. Thus, the forces "pushing" families out of inner-city projects appear to be at least as important as the incentives "pulling" them toward lowpoverty neighborhoods.


Fear of Crime is the Main Reason

Families Apply to MTO

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The five sites have all made substantial progress in implementing the MTO demonstration. Although the initial start-up process took more time in some cities than originally anticipated, all five of the MTO non-profits are now successfully placing families in low-poverty neighborhoods. Exhibit 4 summarizes preliminary data on MTO placement rates and non-profit costs for the five demonstration sites.

MTO non-profits are consistently achieving placement rates that are as high or significantly higher than the 25 percent average success rates typical of the Gautreaux demonstration.13 Preliminary data suggest that providing intensive counseling and search assistance to public and assisted housing families costs between $1,300 and $1,700 for every family assigned to the MTO experimental group. But because not all of these families are successful in finding housing in low-poverty neighborhoods, the cost per household moving to a low-poverty neighborhood is higher, averaging between $2,100 and $2,900. However, the cost data presented here should be regarded as preliminary and subject to revision. At the time these data were collected, only two of the five sites (Baltimore and Boston) had reached a "stable" point in their operations. As a result, expenditure patterns may be dominated by one-time start-up and enrollment costs, including program design, family enrollment, and initial landlord outreach activities. More reliable and comparable cost data will be available when all five sites have completed their MTO placements. The remainder of this section provides more information on each site's progress (Appendix B summarizes key data for all five sites).


The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) administers the Baltimore MTO demonstration in cooperation with the Community Assistance Network (CAN), a Baltimore County non-profit. HABC currently administers 18,000 public housing units and more than 6,400 certificates and vouchers in its regular Section 8 program. CAN is a private, non-profit community action agency with over 30 years of experience providing assistance to low-income people, including day care, housing counseling, weatherization, and selfsufficiency counseling. With HABC's approval, CAN's offices for MTO are housed in the same building as HABC's Section 8 offices. Five census tracts, with an average poverty rate of over 67 percent, were targeted for Baltimore's MTO program. These five tracts contained a total of eight public housing projects (four low-rise and four high-rise family projects), which were home to a total of 3,807 households. Residents had an average household income of only $6,880, and 46 percent received public assistance.

Exhibit 4:

MTO Sites are Achieving Relatively High Success Rates
at Modest Costs per Family

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Note: These data are preliminary and subject to revision. Chicago's
MTO program is at such an early stage that meaningful cost data
cannot be reported.

Virtually all of the project residents were African-American (99.6 percent), and 84 percent were female-headed.14

As soon as the Baltimore MTO demonstration began operation, the HABC conducted an outreach effort by notifying resident associations and public housing managers of the targeted developments, as well as sending 2,300 letters to potentially eligible families. At the same time, CAN began landlord outreach. CAN and HABC also initiated efforts to coordinate with the six other PHAS operating in the suburban counties of the metropolitan area, in anticipation of serving families who would consider moving outside the city.

CAN's staff provides intensive counseling for roughly 30 to 40 experimental group families per month. In the first 60 days after assignment to the experimental group, before housing search is initiated, Baltimore MTO families must attend seven training workshops. In addition, housing counselors spend considerable time providing individual assistance to each family. For example, CAN counselors average over 10 housing search trips per family, although MTO requires only three. CAN drives small groups of MTO families to outlying communities in a van, so that they can see areas where they might consider moving. Families who have leased-up in low-poverty communities participate in orientation classes for new MTO participants, and tell them about their experiences with the program.

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