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«Moving to opportunity voluMe 14, nuMber 2 • 2012 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research ...»

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Sources: HUD (2000); Neighborhood Change Database 190 Moving to Opportunity Constrained Compliance: Solving the Puzzle of MTO’s Lease-Up Rates and Why Mobility Matters HUD is currently at a crossroads; given the results of MTO, should it fund or reward public housing authorities for engaging in mobility programs? Although most of the HUD budget goes toward tenant-based rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers, the HCVP alone does not facilitate mobility to low-poverty neighborhoods. Currently, a number of HUD’s new initiatives (for example, Choice Neighborhoods) are devoted to the opposite philosophy—to infuse poor communities with more resources through redevelopment, services, and subsidies; virtually no new efforts explicitly encourage the kind of assisted mobility that poor families need to access less poor, more integrated communities with better schools. We know of no hard evidence, however, that these in-place strategies actually work to improve family and child outcomes. Meanwhile, significant circumstantial evidence from quasi-experimental research (reported previously) and from the reanalysis of data on educational attainment among children in the Chicago and Baltimore MTO sites (Burdick-Will et al., 2011) suggests that continuing to subsidize units in high-poverty, low-resource neighborhoods with federal housing dollars could do children long-term, serious harm. Because African-American voucher holders are especially subject to these forces, African-American children may be especially harmed. The previously described research, and both quantitative and qualitative analyses of MTO, point to mental and physical health impairments that both youth and adults suffer when trapped in violent, high-poverty neighborhoods (see Sanbonmatsu et al., 2011; Turney, Kissane, and Edin, 2011), findings that speak volumes about the level of the damage such neighborhoods can wield.

This situation introduces a puzzle: why are policymakers now more willing to back community development, which has virtually no empirical track record of improving family life, than mobility programs, which have moved the needle on several important outcomes? Should we not at least include mobility approaches in the package of resources poor renters can access?

The first rule of policy ought to be to do no harm. Paying the rent on a unit in a neighborhood with toxic rates of violence, deplorable schools, and weak institutional resources is simply a poor use of federal dollars in our view, when results from MTO and other programs, such as the original Gautreaux, show us that it is possible to get voucher holders to move to, and even stay in, better neighborhoods (DeLuca and Rosenbaum, 2003; Keels et al., 2005). HUD has any number of tools at hand to accomplish this goal: mobility counseling that eases access to lower poverty neighborhoods; smaller area FMRs that can eliminate the bang for the buck problem Wood (2011) identified among low-income renters, including voucher holders; streamlining portability procedures;

and pushing for source-of-income protection in more metropolitan areas. The government may not be able to save every family from the potential harms of high-poverty neighborhoods, but it can at least make sure that government programs are not putting people in harm’s way. While we wait for proven, in-place strategies, HUD should support local housing authorities in ways that ensure that mobility is a central goal.

Acknowledgments The authors thank the Russell Sage Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation for supporting some of the fieldwork from which this article draws. They also thank Xavier de Souza Briggs, Philip Tegeler, and Barbara Samuels for their thoughts on earlier drafts and Melody Boyd, Karen Burke, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Greg Duncan, Philip Garboden, Jennifer Pashup, Peter Rosenblatt, and Holly Wood for their contributions to other articles central to our arguments.

Cityscape 191Edin, DeLuca, and Owens

Authors Kathryn Edin is a professor of public policy and management in the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University.

Stefanie DeLuca is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.

Ann Owens is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and social policy at Harvard University.

References Boyd, Melody, Kathryn Edin, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, and Greg Duncan. 2010. “The Durability of Gains From the Gautreaux Two Residential Mobility Programs: A Qualitative Analysis of Who Stays and Who Moves From Low-Poverty Neighborhoods,” Housing Policy Debate 20 (1): 119–146.

Briggs, Xavier de Souza, Jennifer Comey, and Gretchen Weismann. 2010. “Struggling To Stay Out of High-Poverty Neighborhoods: Housing Choice and Locations in Moving to Opportunity’s First Decade,” Housing Policy Debate 20 (3): 383–427.

Briggs, Xavier de Souza, Susan J. Popkin, and John Goering. 2010. Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment To Fight Ghetto Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burdick-Will, Julia, Jens Ludwig, Stephen W. Raudenbush, Robert J. Sampson, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, and Patrick Sharkey. 2011. “Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children’s Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison.” In Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, edited by Greg J. Duncan and Richard J.





Murnane. New York: Russell Sage Foundation: 255–276.

Clampet-Lundquist, Susan, Kathryn Edin, Jeffrey R. Kling, and Greg J. Duncan. 2011. “Moving Teenagers Out of High-Risk Neighborhoods: How Girls Fare Better Than Boys,” American Journal of Sociology. 116 (4): 1154–1189.

Clampet-Lundquist, Susan, and Douglas S. Massey. 2008. “Neighborhood Effects on Economic Self-Sufficiency: A Reconsideration of the Moving to Opportunity Experiment,” American Journal of Sociology 114 (1): 107–143.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Philip Garboden, and Peter Rosenblatt. Forthcoming. “Segregating Shelter: How Housing Policies Shape the Residential Locations of Low Income Minority Families.” In Rethinking Urban Disadvantage: The Role of Systems, Institutions, and Organizations. Special issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

DeLuca, Stefanie, and James E. Rosenbaum. 2003. “If Low Income Blacks Are Given a Chance To Live in White Neighborhoods, Will They Stay? Examining Mobility Patterns in a QuasiExperimental Program With Administrative Data,” Housing Policy Debate 14: 305–346.

DeLuca, Stefanie, and Peter Rosenblatt. 2010. “Does Moving to Better Neighborhoods Lead to Better Schooling Opportunities? Parental School Choice in an Experimental Housing Voucher Program,” Teachers College Record 112 (5): 1443–1491.

Devine, Deborah J., Robert W. Gray, Lester Rubin, and Lydia B. Taghavi. 2003. Housing Choice

Voucher Location Patterns: Implications for Participants and Neighborhood Welfare. Washington, DC:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

192 Moving to Opportunity Constrained Compliance: Solving the Puzzle of MTO’s Lease-Up Rates and Why Mobility Matters Feins, Judith D., Debra McInnis, and Susan J. Popkin. 1997. Counseling in the Moving to Opportunity Demonstration Program. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Gewirtz, Paul. 1986. “Choice in the Transition: School Desegregation and the Corrective Ideal,” Columbia Law Review 728: 741–749.

Goetz, Edward, and Karen Chapple. 2010. “‘You Gotta Move’: Advancing the Debate on the Record of Dispersal,” Housing Policy Debate 20: 209–236.

Imbroscio, David. 2012. “Beyond Mobility: The Limits of Liberal Urban Policy,” Journal of Urban Affairs 34: 1–20.

Keels, Micere, Greg J. Duncan, Stefanie DeLuca, Ruby Mendenhall, and James Rosenbaum. 2005.

“Fifteen Years Later: Can Residential Mobility Programs Provide a Long-Term Escape From Neighborhood Segregation, Crime, and Poverty?” Demography 42 (1): 51–73.

Ludwig, Jens, Jeffrey B. Liebman, Jeffrey R. Kling, Greg J. Duncan, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C.

Kessler, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. 2008. “What Can We Learn About Neighborhood Effects From the Moving to Opportunity Experiment?” American Journal of Sociology 114 (1): 144–188.

Orr, Larry, Judith D. Feins, Robin Jacob, Erik Beecroft, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, Lawrence F. Katz, Jeffrey

B. Liebman, and Jeffrey R. Kling. 2003. Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program:

Interim Impacts Evaluation. Report prepared by Abt Associates Inc. and the National Bureau of Economic Research for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Pashup, Jennifer, Kathryn Edin, Greg Duncan, and Karen Burke. 2005. “Participation in a Residential Mobility Program From the Client’s Perspective: Findings From Gautreaux Two,” Housing Policy Debate 18 (3/4): 361–392.

Rosenbaum, James E., Stefanie DeLuca, and Tammy Tuck. 2005. “Crossing Borders and Adapting:

Low-Income Black Families in Suburbia.” In The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America, edited by Xavier de Souza Briggs. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution: 150–176.

Rosenblatt, Peter, and Stefanie DeLuca. Forthcoming. “We Don’t Live Outside, We Live in Here”:

Neighborhoods and Residential Mobility Decisions Among Low-Income Families. City and Community.

Sampson, Robert J. 2012. Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press.

———. 2008. “Moving to Inequality: Neighborhood Effects and Experiments Meet Social Structure,” American Journal of Sociology 114 (1): 189-231.

Sampson, Robert J., Patrick Sharkey, and Stephen W. Raudenbush. 2008. “Durable Effects of Concentrated Disadvantage on Verbal Ability Among African-American Children.” In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (3): 845–852.

Samuels, Barbara. 2012 (March 5). Personal communication, phone interview. Barbara Samuels is the managing attorney at Fair Housing for American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

–  –  –

Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, Jens Ludwig, Larry F. Katz, Lisa A. Gennetian, Greg J. Duncan, Ronald C. Kessler, Emma Adam, Thomas W. McDade, and Stacy Tessler Lindau. 2011. Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration Program: Final Impacts Evaluation. Report prepared by the National Bureau of Economic Research for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research.

Sharkey, Patrick. 2010. “The Acute Effect of Local Homicides on Children’s Cognitive Performance.” In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (26): 11733–11738.

———. 2008. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Context,” American Journal of Sociology 113 (4): 931–969.

Sharkey, Patrick, and Felix Elwert. 2011. “The Legacy of Disadvantage: Multigenerational Neighborhood Effects on Cognitive Ability,” American Journal of Sociology 116 (6): 1934–1981.

Turney, Kristin, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Kathryn Edin, Jeffrey R. Kling, and Greg J. Duncan.

2006. “Neighborhood Effects on Barriers to Employment: Results From a Randomized Housing Mobility Experiment in Baltimore.” In Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, edited by Gary Burtless and Janet Rothenberg Pack. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press: 137–187.

Turney, Kristin, Rebecca Kissane, and Kathryn Edin. 2011. “After Moving to Opportunity: How Moving to a Low-Poverty Neighborhood Improves Mental Health Among African-American Women.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Washington, DC, November 3–5.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 2008. A Picture of Subsidized Households—2008. Available at http://www.huduser.org/portal/picture2008/index.html.

———. 2000. A Picture of Subsidized Households—2000. Available at http://www.huduser.org/ portal/picture2000/index.html.

Wodtke, Geoffrey T., David J. Harding, and Felix Elwert. 2011. “Neighborhood Effects in Temporal Perspective: The Impact of Long-Term Exposure to Concentrated Disadvantage on High School Graduation,” American Sociological Review 76 (5): 713–736.

Wood, Holly Michelle. 2011. When Only a House Makes a Home: The Roles of Neighborhood and Dwelling in the Residential Decision-Making of Lower-Income, Inner-City Black Families.

Unpublished manuscript.

Additional Reading DeLuca, Stefanie, Holly Wood, and Peter Rosenblatt. 2011. “Why Poor People Move (and Where They Go): Residential Mobility, Selection, and Stratification.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Las Vegas, NV, August 22.

Kaufman, Julie E., and James E. Rosenbaum. 1992. “The Education and Employment of LowIncome Black Youth in White Suburbs,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 14 (3): 229–240.

Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, Jeffrey R. Kling, Greg J. Duncan, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2006. “Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results From the Moving to Opportunity Experiment,” Journal of Human Resources 41 (4): 649–691.



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