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Final MTO Evaluation Released with Mixed Results


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released the final evaluation of its Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration program and has found mixed results during the nearly 20 years that the study has been active. HUD was tasked by Congress to look at the affect of moving public housing residents living in high-poverty neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods on their housing, employment, income and education.

One highlight from the study =- widely reported in national media - is that residents who moved to lower-poverty neighborhoods felt safer, experienced less psychological distress and major depression, as well as lower incidences of obesity and diabetes. For more information about these findings, click here.

Conversely, the study found that the move to lower poverty neighborhoods did not result in better employment or income outcomes. It also found that children did not have better educational achievements and that those in the control group were not significantly less likely to engage in most forms of risky or criminal behavior.

HUD notes, however, that the poverty rates in the neighborhoods to which families moved were not significantly less than the neighborhoods from which they came - with 31% of residents in their new neighborhoods living below the poverty line compared with 40% below the poverty line in their neighborhoods of origin. This intervening variable may have at least partially caused these unexpected results, according to HUD. One example noted in the report is that most students who moved to lower-poverty neighborhoods continued to attend schools that were majority-minority, low performing and low-income.

According a post by Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Raphael Bostic,

"It could be that such moves do not offer significant enough differences in work and skill building opportunities and school quality to produce measurable changes in outcomes, and that more dramatic change is necessary. More research is needed to better understand these relationships."

To Learn More:
Read Asst. Sec. Bostic’s Post
Read the Study
10/26: Study: Better Neighborhoods Mean Better Health


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