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Housing Policy Briefs

Improving Health and Housing Stability through the Housing Choice Voucher Program

24 October 2018
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Providing families with opportunities to relocate to lower-poverty neighborhoods through the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program shows statistically significant improvements to their health and wellbeing over the course of their lives.  

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report analyzes research from a 2015 study by Harvard economists which found that children of families that used a MTO voucher to move to a lower-poverty area saw a 32% increase in college attendance and earned 31% more as adults than families who did not receive an MTO voucher. (See Figure 1) 

The report offers four interrelated policy changes at the federal level that would improve outcomes for families in the HCV program, including:  

  1. The establishment and funding of the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration, which would allow housing agencies to assist families in pre- and post-move support for families looking to move to a higher-opportunity area. 
  2. Providing incentives for agencies to increase the share of vouchers offered in low-poverty, high-opportunity areas by giving more weight to the types of neighborhoods in which voucher holders live. 
  3. Implementing the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) regulation, facilitating better communication of available units in high-opportunity neighborhoods to voucher holders, and extending the length of time a family can search for these units.  
  4. Minimizing jurisdictional barriers by unifying metropolitan program operations and reducing financial disincentives for agencies to help voucher holders move across jurisdictional lines. 

These changes could allow a larger number of families to achieve significant improvements in their lives and would help advocates and policymakers work towards reducing intergenerational poverty. 

For more information, click here