November 3, 2014
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report, Creating Opportunity for Children: How Housing Location Can Make a Difference. There is some research on the positive effects that homeownership has on outcomes for children. But it is hard to determine whether it is homeownership per se which causes the positive effects as opposed to a stable housing situation more generally. Thus, further research on the role of stable housing options, like that found in this report, is quite welcome. This report finds that the Housing Choice Voucher program
has performed much better than HUD’s project-based rental assistance programs in enabling more low-income families with children—and particularly more African American and Latino families—to live in lower-poverty neighborhoods. . . . Having a housing voucher also substantially reduces the likelihood of living in an extreme-poverty neighborhood, compared with similar families with children that either receive project-based rental assistance or don’t receive housing assistance at all. (6)
The report concludes that
Based on the evidence on how housing location affects low-income families, particularly children, and the performance of federal rental assistance programs on location-related measures, we recommend two closely related near-term goals for federal rental assistance policy: 1) federal rental assistance programs should provide greater opportunities for families to choose affordable housing outside of extreme-poverty neighborhoods; and 2) the programs should provide better access for families to low-poverty, safe communities with better-performing schools. (7)
The report also recommends four policy changes to achieve these goals:
- Create strong incentives for local and state housing agencies to achieve better location outcomes.
Modify policies that discourage families from living in lower-poverty communities.
Minimize jurisdictional barriers to families’ ability to choose to live in high-opportunity communities.
Assist families in using vouchers to live in high-opportunity areas. (7-8)
This is a pretty hefty report and it is worth digging into more deeply.