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EXPANDING HOUSING CHOICES FOR HUD-ASSISTED FAMILIES:

FirstBiennial Report to Congress

Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Office of Policy Development and Research

April 1996

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FOREWORD

I am pleased to provide the first in a series of biennial reports to Congress on the status of the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration. MTO was authorized by Section 152 of the 1992 Housing and Community Development Act. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has implemented a carefully controlled experimental design for this demonstration in order to evaluate the impacts of helping low-income families move from public and assisted housing in high-poverty inner-city neighborhoods to better housing, education, and employment opportunities in lowpoverty communities throughout a metropolitan area.

Two years into the MTO demonstration, the five sites have all made substantial progress in implementing the MTO demonstration, and are expected to reach their placement targets by the end of 1996. This success has been achieved through the close working relationships forged by public housing authorities and non-profit housing counseling agencies in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

The Office of Policy Development and Research is committed to monitoring and evaluating the MTO demonstration over the longterm. Social, employment, and educational outcomes for demonstration participants will be systematically monitored and evaluated over a ten-year period, in order to definitively assess the impacts of housing mobility assistance. In addition, we have funded six university research teams to immediately examine changes in the lives of parents and children as they move to lowpoverty communities. This ongoing research and information gathering will enable HUD to develop more sensible and effective mobility strategies for recipients of tenant-based housing assistance in metropolitan areas throughout the nation.

Expanding access for low-income families to housing opportunities
throughout the metropolis is a priority for federal housing
policy under the leadership of Secretary Henry G. Cisneros. The
Moving to Opportunity demonstration is just one of several
federal initiatives designed to ensure that poor people are not
trapped and isolated in predominantly poor neighborhoods. Over
the next ten years, this investment will yield a continuous
stream of valuable evidence and insight about housing mobility
and its impacts on families' self-sufficiency.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Inspired by the Gautreaux housing mobility program in Chicago, Moving to Opportunity (MTO) is an expe demonstration and research project designed to evaluate the impacts of helping low-income families move from public and assisted housing in high-poverty inner-city neighborhoods to better housing, education, and employment opportunities in lowpoverty communities throughout a metropolitan area. This is the first in a series of biennial reports to Congress on the status of the MTO demonstration.

The Moving to Opportunity demonstration was authorized by Section 152 of the 1992 Housing and Community Development Act. Section 152 provides tenant-based rental assistance and supportive counseling services to test and evaluate the effectiveness of metropolitan area-wide efforts to:

"assist very low-income families with children who
reside in public housing or housing receiving project-
based assistance under Section 8 of the Housing and
Community Development Act of 1937 to move out of areas
with high concentrations of persons living in poverty
to areas with low concentrations of such persons."

Section 8 rental assistance for the MTO demonstration was appropriated at $20 million for Fiscal Year 1992 and $50 million for Fiscal Year 1993. In addition, up to $1 million was allocated to non-profit counseling agencies to provide partial support for their housing search and mobility counseling efforts. These funds are assisting approximately 1,300 low-income families at five HUD-selected demonstration sites -- Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

HUD has implemented a carefully controlled experimental design for MTO in order to definitively answer questions about the immediate effectiveness of mobility counseling, and about the long-term impacts for families who move to low-poverty communities. Eligible participants in the demonstration are randomly assigned to three groups: 1) an MTO experimental group, which receives Section 8 certificates or vouchers usable only in tracts with less than 10 percent poverty, along with counseling assistance in finding a unit; 2) a Section 8 comparison group, which receives regular Section 8 certificates or vouchers, with no special geographical restrictions or counseling; and 3) an inplace control group, which continues to receive their current project-based assistance. This random-assignment experimental design is essential to achieve the statutory goals of MTO. Outcomes for all three groups will be systematically monitored and evaluated over a ten-year period, in order to fully assess the impacts of housing mobility assistance on families and children.

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