For the past decade and a half, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had been conducting a study of low-income families who volunteered to participate in HUD’s Moving to Opportunity demonstration. According to HUD, the experiment intended “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. ”
HUD released its findings last year. The big takeaway from the report is that, as a group, the MTO experimental families did enjoy significantly better health and mental health than the control group. An improvement in health outcomes even influences seemingly unrelated quality of life factors such as employability and the ability to be a better parent.
One aspect of HUD’s findings was that the MTO experimental group did not perform better than the control group in regards to income, employment or educational attainment. However, a new report, released this month by the Urban Institute finds that, “MTO families that lived for longer periods in neighborhoods with lower poverty did achieve better outcomes in work and school, as well as in health.”
As the Urban Institute’s Margery Turner explains in a recent blog post, “Adults living in lower-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to have jobs and earn more, other things being equal. Youth (both boys and girls) living in lower-poverty neighborhoods have higher English and math test scores. These benefits are not only statistically significant but also meaningful in size.”