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  1. Introduction
  2. Kimberly
  3. Tasha
  4. Kimberly
  5. Kimberly 1990s
  6. Tasha
  7. Crystal
  8. Testimonials
  9. From the Desk of Stefanie DeLuca
  10. Housing Mobility Project Features
  11. Obstacles to Opportunity
  12. Why the Baltimore Program Is Different
  13. Baltimore Opportunity Areas
  14. Baltimore Social Indexes
  15. Baltimore Housing Mobility Program
  16. Mobility Counseling
  17. Kimberly
  18. Tasha
  19. Peace of Mind
  20. Crystal
  21. Testimonials
  22. Stefanie DeLuca
  23. On the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  24. Conclusion
  25. Conclusion
  26. Credits
Stefanie DeLuca and Jessi Stafford
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Finding Home

Voices of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program

Finding Home
Voices of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program

This is a story about Baltimore. It’s a story about the people who live in the city’s forgotten parts. It’s a story about race and housing and poverty. It’s a story about a program that opens a door to mainstream America.

This is a story about perspective. 

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Kimberly
Baltimore Suburbs. Present Day.

A young, African American woman sits nervously at her dining room table inside a modest, two-story house. The front of her house is adorned with rosebushes and a wraparound porch. On the inside, old, slightly stained carpeting spans the floors and few furnishings decorate the walls.

Kimberly is the type of woman who greets even casual acquaintances with a hug. If you have the time, she has many stories to tell, particularly about her daughters and her half-sister, whom Kimberly also raised. Their names are tattooed on Kimberly’s upper arm so they are with her at all times.

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My mom got me into the public housing system. I don't want that for my children. I do not want them to be part of the system.

Kimberly

Kimberly stands up, stretches, and walks to the kitchen. In the middle of the room stands a small island. Kimberly can often be found hunched over it making minced meat. French doors allow a glimpse at a fenced-in backyard. The bathroom is decorated with a matching shower curtain, bath mats, and towels for company. The upstairs bedrooms await sleepy children.

The scene outside is not that of a never-ending high-rise, but of a quiet, suburban neighborhood. Thanks to the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, Kimberly’s family, and thousands of others, can experience a new way of life away from the high-poverty neighborhoods of their past.

Tasha
Baltimore Suburbs, Present Day

In another suburb of Baltimore is Tasha, who loves the thrill of taking care of her three children. The oldest is a teenager and the youngest is just a baby. Tasha and her family have a close relationship with Tasha’s siblings, who come to visit her in her new home several times per month. She loves being around people, so even when she doesn’t have company, she and her children make their own excitement.

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I want my children to be around grass and live in a neighborhood where they get little activities. I want them to go to good schools.

Tasha

Tasha’s favorite aspect of her new neighborhood is the serenity, the peace and quiet. To get fresh air, she relaxes outside on her own private deck to take in the beautiful greenery and multitude of flowers surrounding her. When Tasha wants to really impress visitors, she takes them across her backyard, through a clearing of trees, and stops at a large pond, which plays home to deer, lizards, hummingbirds, and a host of other wildlife. Her oldest son and daughter can often be found playing catch in the backyard.

But it wasn’t always this way for Kimberly and Tasha.

Kimberly
Baltimore City, 1990s

Depending on which street you choose in Baltimore, you might find a vastly different portrait of a “typical” way of life. In Baltimore County, you might see a developing, working-class neighborhood, with shops and residential pockets blending together. Baltimore’s inner city is a snapshot of the reality of concentrated poverty in America. Often viewed as an “island” of poverty amidst a sea of recovering or affluent suburbs, Baltimore City was already worse off than many other cities in the country when the economic recession hit less than a decade ago.

Though the borders between Baltimore’s neighborhoods are invisible, the disparity between a white family living in the suburbs and an African American family living in the city is highly pronounced. The result is a host of opportunities for the former, and a difficult-to-escape loop of poverty and struggle for the latter.

A 13-year-old Kimberly looks forlornly at her new room in one of Baltimore City’s many public housing projects. Gone are the days of living at her grandmother’s middle-class home in West Baltimore. Gone, too, is her grandmother’s stabilizing presence. Kimberly now lives with her mother, a long-time drug user still struggling with addiction. She lacks support because she’s surrounded by dozens of other families just like hers in the housing unit where she lives.

Years later, Kimberly will describe this living arrangement as a prison. Future Kimberly will vow never to expose her daughters to that kind of environment.

But 13-year-old Kimberly behaves just like any teenager thrust into such an unhealthy environment. She gets in trouble at school—so much so that she’ll eventually be expelled and transferred to an alternative school. She’ll get pregnant at the age of 15. And she’ll move to one housing project after another. 

In short, Kimberly’s experience will be typical of many who live in Baltimore’s public housing projects.

Tasha
Baltimore City, 1998

Moving day. Tasha is leaving her mother’s house for her very own place. It’s just a few steps away, but at least her three-year-old daughter won't have to miss getting to see her grandmother regularly.

Tasha has lived in the same housing project since she was born eighteen years ago. She’s always felt supported in her home life, and she thinks she's been relatively happy thus far. In fact, she’ll remain in the same place for twelve more years. But life right outside Tasha’s home has been anything but supportive or happy.

Crime has blanketed her neighborhood as long as she can remember, but recently she’s become more aware of the pervasiveness of the drug deals. Rarely a day passes when she doesn’t have to walk past two or three just to leave her front door. The dealers bring sounds of fighting, gunshots, and sirens. In the early morning, she sneaks outside to breathe fresh air—the only quiet time she can find outside before the drug dealing starts in for the day, and throughout the night. 

By the time she is 24, Tasha will be tired of this life. She will love her children—by then a son will have joined her daughter—and she’ll want to keep them from witnessing the crime just outside her home. She will be devastated when her mother passes away from kidney cancer in 2009. At this point, Tasha will begin to consider a way out for her and her children. But it won’t be easy. Tasha doesn’t know any other life than this. She will have nothing with which to compare her home.

On Barriers to Housing
 
Stefane DeLuca on Moving

Crystal
Baltimore City, Early 2000s

Crystal—Kimberly’s daughter—is tired of getting into fights. It’s not like she wants to fight with anyone. But her school near the housing projects is rowdy. Sometimes she has to fight simply to defend herself. Life can be dangerous here regardless. Crystal shudders to think of all the shootings in her neighborhood—including the one that recently wounded her older cousin. She’s already learned to stay away from the sorts of people who stand on corners all day.

It doesn’t get any less chaotic when she gets back home, where she has to share a room with all her sisters.

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It would be really unsafe for me to walk home from [the other neighborhood] school because it's really dark, so it would be really scary.

Crystal

Still, there are parts that aren’t so bad. There’s the dancing with her step group. Plus she loves to sing with her friends. And she can walk to school every day. There are definitely better schools she could attend, but it’s unsafe to walk there, so she's left with no choice but the school down the street.

My life had been really upside-down after my son was shot.

Yolanda

I didn't want to be like the things my mom went through or the things she had done.

April

Living in the ghetto, this is all you know. Everybody else is doing the same thing, so it kind of makes you feel like this is the way it's supposed to be.

Mila

From the Desk of Stefanie DeLuca

I’m glad to know that you are interested in the history of Baltimore’s public housing. It's a fascinating story! 

Public housing in the United States is still deeply segregated. Until the 1960s, in many cities and states, this segregation was created overtly by design. Later on, segregation survived as a legacy, as each new public housing development was built adjacent to other public housing units, literally creating large clusters of poverty in inner-city neighborhoods—a practice that is still occurring today in many cities. These clusters mainly consisted of poor, black families, usually headed by single mothers. Baltimore was one of the most startling examples of this practice.

Meanwhile, in the wealthier neighborhoods of cities and their suburbs, public housing units and African American residents were excluded, in part due to economic and political realities as well as outright discrimination. In short, mostly poor and African American families were denied the housing opportunities available to their white and middle-class peers.

The housing choice voucher program (formerly known as Section 8)—the existing HUD program that provides low-income families with the chance to obtain housing in private markets—might have provided an alternative to the racially segregated inner-city housing projects. 

However, despite the geographic range that these vouchers could potentially provide in Baltimore and other cities, African American families—including those with vouchers—still remain largely confined to segregated neighborhoods. In 1995, the ACLU sued the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), charging that these agencies had never effectively desegregated Baltimore’s public housing and were continuing to discriminate against African Americans.

In 2005, a federal district court ruled that HUD (but not HABC) violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by failing to take a regional approach to the desegregation of Baltimore’s public housing system, and treating the majority black city as an “island reservation” for the poor of the entire metropolitan region, according to U.S. District Judge Marvin A. Garbis. 

The remedy in the case, Thompson v. HUD, established the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program (administered by Metropolitan Baltimore Quadel). The program enables families to move to racially and economically integrated neighborhoods in Baltimore and its surrounding counties.

To qualify, a neighborhood must have an underrepresentation of poor households, African American residents, and subsidized housing units relative to the metro region as a whole. The program requires that participants stay in the higher-opportunity area for the first two years they have the voucher. After that period, they may use their vouchers to obtain housing anywhere in the Baltimore region or nation.

FYI, you can read about the program in more depth in my forthcoming Journal of Public Policy Analysis and Management article, “‘Living Here Changed My Whole Perspective’: How escaping inner-city poverty shapes neighborhood and housing choice.”

I hope this helps.

Best,
Stefanie

Housing Mobility Project Features
See how these major housing mobility projects stack up against the national voucher program.

HCVP/Section 8

  • Provides vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Conducts housing quality inspection

Gautreaux (1976-1990)

  • Provided vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Required residents to live in areas less than 30% black
  • Provided housing search counseling
  • Conducted housing quality inspection
  • Counselors secured rental units for families

MTO (1994-1998)

  • Provided vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Required residents to live in areas less than 10% poor
  • Provided housing search counseling
  • Required residents to remain in new unit for at least one year
  • Conducted housing quality inspection

Baltimore Program

  • Provides vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Requires residents to live in areas less than 10% poor
  • Requires residents to live in areas less than 30% black
  • Requires residents to live in areas with no more than 5% of residents in subsidized housing
  • Provides housing search counseling
  • Provides post-move counseling
  • Requires residents to remain in new unit for at least one year
  • Requires residents to remain in eligible areas for at least two years
  • Voucher can be used across entire metropolitan regions
  • Provides financial literacy counseling
  • Provides second-move counseling
  • Conducts housing quality inspection

HCVP/Section 8

  • Provides vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Conducts housing quality inspection

Gautreaux (1976-1990)

  • Provided vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Required residents to live in areas less than 30% black
  • Provided housing search counseling
  • Conducted housing quality inspection
  • Counselors secured rental units for families

MTO (1994-1998)

  • Provided vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Required residents to live in areas less than 10% poor
  • Provided housing search counseling
  • Required residents to remain in new unit for at least one year
  • Conducted housing quality inspection

Baltimore Program

  • Provides vouchers that allow residents to enter private rental market.
  • Requires residents to live in areas less than 10% poor
  • Requires residents to live in areas less than 30% black
  • Requires residents to live in areas with no more than 5% of residents in subsidized housing
  • Provides housing search counseling
  • Provides post-move counseling
  • Requires residents to remain in new unit for at least one year
  • Requires residents to remain in eligible areas for at least two years
  • Voucher can be used across entire metropolitan regions
  • Provides financial literacy counseling
  • Provides second-move counseling
  • Conducts housing quality inspection
 
Obstacles to Opportunity
How Concentrated Poverty Slows Growth

Kimberly and Tasha’s stories are not unique. Many African American families in public housing are headed by women with children who grew up in areas of concentrated poverty, often in unstable environments. They have faced barriers to education, and as a result, their job opportunities are limited. Many must also rely on other forms of federal assistance, such as food stamps and Medicaid.

Families living in concentrated poverty never get to play with a full deck of cards. Rates of residential relocation are high among Baltimore’s low-income African American families, but these moves are rarely made on the family’s own terms. Houses fall apart, fires start, landlords decide to sell. These external factors force the hands of low-income families.

Women like Kimberly and Tasha have lived most of their lives in Baltimore’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, and their children have attended some of the worst schools in the metropolitan region. This is what they know. They never get to realize the opportunities available in the mainstream economy and communities, unless someone shows them how and helps knock down barriers in their way. The cycle of concentrated poverty and racial segregation takes away the availability and agency of choice.

As generation after generation of low-income families churn through an environment with little to no opportunities, the chance to learn what else is out there, what is possible for them, fades away.

A range of experiences shape a family’s behavior and criteria for moving. The decisions that many middle-class families make when moving from house to house, or from neighborhood to neighborhood, are based on things like school district quality, amenities, how quiet the neighborhood is. But years of living in racially isolated public housing leave low-income families few choices, as they know only a restricted range of neighborhoods in which to move. Many are simply unaware other options exist.

And when low-income families move, it is often the result of unexpected circumstances, or conditions out of their control. The idea of where to live, where their children should go to school is often not part of the deal. When a move is quick and panicked, mothers don’t have time to think about school and neighborhood quality.

Many low-income families place more value on housing unit characteristics than on neighborhood quality, such as favoring the isolation and security of a unit to cope with the close proximity to crime. They lack a sense of how widely the different neighborhoods in Baltimore can vary in quality, and how moving to a suburb twenty minutes away could vastly increase opportunity.

In addition to the financial support of a high quality housing program and removing institutional and market barriers, changing the way families think about where and why they move is a significant part of the solution.

This is just a whole transformation from everything I went through there. This is a complete 180.

Tasha

After experiencing counseling through the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, a large shift occurs in what families thought was possible. Expectations are raised.

By connecting families with better schools and safer neighborhoods through the program, families begin to feel at ease. There is a profound relief for mothers who can now breathe easy and let their children play outside. Children are excited to go to school; some mothers have never experienced that before.

A wake-up call often occurs, when mothers realize that they don’t want to go back to the city. They want to begin a new life for their children and for themselves. Perspectives change, and different types of tradeoffs emerge: if getting a slightly bigger house means leaving a certain school district, it’s not worth it. School quality becomes a priority, as opposed to a hidden menu item.

Participants come to value things they were unaware they could have prior to their participation in the program, things like quiet, and backyards. These new frameworks take time to emerge; since participants in Baltimore’s program remain in higher-opportunity areas for at least two years, they have time to experience that paradigm shift.

Through this program, the longevity of families’ tenure in higher-opportunity neighborhoods drives them to adjust their comfort zones—this has a positive effect on mental health and future choice-making, even outside of moving. These adjustments decrease the likelihood of moving back to high-poverty areas.

But, even if families move back to the city, they know which areas will not provide them with the newfound resources they now seek.

Baltimore Opportunity Areas

Areas of Socioeconomic Opportunity

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Map compiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, June 2005. Data from Census 2000.

 
Baltimore Social Indexes

Neighborhood Health Index

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Map compiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, June 2005. Data from Kirwan Opportunity Analysis 2005. Click toggles below for additional maps.

Educational Opportunity Index

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Map compiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, June 2005. Data from Kirwan Opportunity Analysis 2005. Click toggles below for additional maps.

Estimated Entry Level and Low Skill Employment by Zip Code

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Map compiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, June 2005. Data from U.S. Census Bureau Zip Code Business Patterns Database 2002. Click toggles below for additional maps.

Click icons to toggle.

 
Baltimore Housing Mobility Program
Present Day

Residents aren’t left alone to find housing in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Tasha and Kimberly attended a required series of workshops and counseling sessions that prepared them for their moves. These sessions gave them skills to help negotiate with landlords and make budgets. Program administrators conducted inspections of homes before participants ever moved in.

Tasha and Kimberly will discover that mobility program counselors offer second-move counseling in the event they want to move out of their first opportunity neighborhood, as Tasha is planning in order to accommodate her family as they grow up. This helps transition voucher holders through a second move, and minimizes the likelihood participants will move out of opportunity neighborhoods.

Counselors work to help participants shift their thinking by providing the best information about available neighborhoods, and persuading families to prioritize resources, such as good schools and neighborhood safety. In order to personally connect with participants, counselors present stories of former residents who have embraced living in Baltimore's counties, and they invite families to come in and discuss their new lives in quiet, safe communities with good schools.   

Tours of higher-opportunity neighborhoods seal the deal, as families begin to visualize how their life might be in a suburban environment; counselors then begin to show families available houses for rent. Once they’ve moved, counselors continue to help them adjust to their new homes and surroundings.

I take my hat off to MBQ. They let you know everything you need to know before they even let you sign on the dotted line of the lease. They're helping a lot of lives.

Tasha

There are two really essential pieces to the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program. One is getting eligible families to imagine living in a neighborhood they’ve never lived in before. Families in the program have often lived in just one small set of four blocks in Baltimore City and nowhere else.

Part of the program’s counseling helps families imagine what moving to a different part of the metro area would be like. Families are taken on community tours so they can actually start to visualize this possibility for themselves and for their kids. These tours prepare families for moves and help them understand what the value is of such a radical change of social environment.

Additionally, the mobility program goes beyond the typical housing voucher. Counselors do extensive landlord outreach in more affluent communities and help landlords understand the benefit of allowing some of these families to “lease up” in their rental units. Landlord education and outreach is critically important; affordable housing is much scarcer in affluent communities. The program also removes bureaucratic hurdles to renting in middle-class neighborhoods, such as voucher applications to multiple suburban housing authorities. It also provides an increased payment standard to help families afford higher-opportunity communities with their voucher.

Outreach helps locate eligible homes in higher-opportunity neighborhoods and teaches landlords the benefits of the program. Vetting listings and showing families program-approved neighborhoods takes some of the burden away from those who have had such little experience searching for housing, particularly in more affluent neighborhoods. The pre-approved listings provide a nudge for the families and a different set of options than they would normally have. 

The primary goal is to assist low-income families living in distressed, high-poverty neighborhoods to move to low-poverty, high-opportunity neighborhoods throughout the greater Baltimore region.

Philip Tegeler, Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Kimberly
Baltimore Suburbs, Present Day

Kimberly begins prepping dinner for her extended family. Besides her daughters, she’s still caring for her half-sister. Her elderly grandfather, now home-ridden with dementia and other health problems, has moved in as well. (Without Kimberly, he probably would end up in a less helpful, more expensive public facility.) Her boyfriend won’t be coming by for dinner tonight. A truck driver, he’s on the road frequently.

When Kimberly first heard about the mobility program from a friend in West Baltimore, she was initially hesitant about making another move to a totally new neighborhood. But eventually, Kimberly decided this program was her best shot at a bigger suburban house to accommodate all the people who depend on her. She finally made the leap because, with a growing family, she was running out of options.

It's only in leaving that I started growing and wanting to do different things, learn different things and be something different.

Kimberly

Now, she can’t help but notice how different her life is from just last year. She remembers a time when she didn’t think about neighborhoods all that much. She mostly just wanted to avoid the ubiquitous noise, crime, and lack of privacy that were hallmarks of every neighborhood she knew growing up. She focused simply on moving to different housing units, rather than on the neighborhood or school district they were located in. By “living inside,” Kimberly felt like she had a degree of control over her life that she lacked the moment she stepped outside.

Now Kimberly’s strategies for reaching her goals are much different. She wants her girls to have a great education and more opportunities than she did growing up, and she understands the kinds of neighborhoods and schools necessary to make that happen.

Tasha
Baltimore Suburbs, Present Day

Tasha and her children return from a picnic at their school, still in fits of excitement from the day spent playing outside. She recalls how the teachers seemed to really know the students. The school even provided lunch for children who forgot to pack a picnic. She fondly remembers putting together her children's picnic lunches the night before. When Tasha looks back on her thirty years in Baltimore City, she realizes she has no complaints about her choice to resettle outside of the city.

Smiling, Tasha turns to look out of her window, watching while her kids run off the rest of their energy with some classmates before dinner. Sometimes, Tasha can’t believe her life has turned out this way.

I just cry sometimes because they say young parents can't raise kids. I feel like I am an example of "Yes, they can!"

Tasha

When Tasha received her letter in the mail from the mobility program, she jumped at the chance to escape the murder, crime, and drugs, which had all gotten worse. Having her children play in broken playgrounds surrounded by other students selling drugs would be a thing of the past.

Now, Tasha knows what it feels like to live in an actual house, and to be able to pay her own gas and electricity, which makes her feel more in control of her surroundings. She feels like she’s grown as an adult. Now that she knows this feeling of responsibility for her future, she doesn’t ever want to go back.

Stefanie DeLuca discusses the profound increase in well-being for women moving through the Baltimore mobility program

Crystal
Baltimore Suburbs, Present Day

Crystal’s new school is so different from her old one. The biggest thing she notices is that there aren’t many fights. But most days Crystal is too busy to even think much about that sort of thing anymore.

She’s been learning ballet, modern, tap, and jazz dancing (though hip-hop is still her first love). And she’s still involved with chorus at school. But now she’s also excited about getting better at her French and Spanish lessons. Plus, just last week she got to be a “special helper” in art class.

I want to be an educator and a dance teacher. Or maybe, I was thinking of having my own dance shop.

Crystal

Some of her friends are starting to pay attention to boys, but Crystal isn’t interested. Boyfriends just mean drama. It’s not like she has any trouble making friends with other girls, as long as they don’t have any attitude. She’ll probably get married and have kids someday, but that’s not until after she gets old—maybe 30. 

Mainly though, Crystal likes being around people of all different races, as long as everyone is equal. She didn’t get to experience much diversity at her old school.

At home, Crystal still shares a bedroom—the biggest one—with her little sister. Crystal doesn’t mind sharing, though. It’s pretty easy to keep things neat now that there are just the two of them in the room.

Crystal smiles when she thinks about how much she loves having other kids over to her house to play in her huge yard.

If you press her, Crystal will tell you that her mom, Kimberly, is her role model.

The school realized my kid was smart. He just never applied himself because he didn't feel like he had to at that old school.

Rhonda

I wouldn't move from this home until my four-year-old is out of school. This is the house, the neighborhood I want my kids to remember.

Monica

When we first moved, the children didn't like it because it was so quiet...and then one of the children woke up and said, "We slept good. We don't hear the ambulance, we don't hear the police cars."

Marie

Stefanie DeLuca
The Century Foundation, Present Day

Where we live often carries more weight than simply providing shelter and a place to call home; it can mean the difference between a good school and a bad one, a chance at peace-of-mind, or constant anxiety. As the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program shows, a neighborhood can even shape one’s entire way of thinking about the world, from the opportunities available, to the possibility of success, to self-empowerment.

Thankfully for many families, the inklings of change are making their way through the Baltimore region due to the mobility program. Families are able to see the grass on the other side, and learn why greener is better.

On the Housing Choice Voucher Program
 
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Since 2003, the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program has helped over 2,000 families move from high-poverty, highly segregated neighborhoods to low-poverty, racially diverse neighborhoods outside Baltimore City. Furthermore, over two-thirds of these families remain in integrated, low-poverty communities. Not only does the housing mobility program help families escape the problems they face in the city, it transforms the frameworks about which families think about available opportunities.

One thing people don’t realize is that, unlike SNAP (food stamps) or Medicaid or TANF (welfare aid), housing vouchers and housing subsidies from the federal government are extremely scarce.

The national Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) serves just one out of every four eligible families. The lack of housing assistance means that poor families often end up spending a higher percentage of their income bundle on housing than do middle-income families.

We’ve seen in our fieldwork that these housing needs create overcrowding. Families are doubled-up and tripled-up, which leads to a lot of instability in family structure for kids, a lack of privacy and space, and often means living in neighborhoods filled with violence.

Many people are familiar with the idea that educational quality is an important policy area, or that decreasing crime is important. But rental housing itself is not something with as much public focus. That’s a mistake. Where people live determines where their kids go to school. Many of these high-poverty communities are toxic for children’s learning. Children who grow up in these neighborhoods often cycle through poor neighborhoods for the rest of their lives.

Understanding housing policy helps us to better ensure that families have access to affordable housing in neighborhoods that will also allow their children to have opportunities.

We’re starting to see the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program make a real difference in people’s lives. We can see it in Tasha’s growing confidence in herself. We see it in Kimberly’s commitment to live in neighborhoods with good schools for her kids.

But most of all, we see it in Crystal, a child of the Baltimore projects. She admires her mother for letting her lead a quiet life in the suburbs. With the aid of the mobility program, the cycle of living in concentrated poverty for her family ends with her generation.

Credits

Written By:

Stefanie DeLuca is a fellow at The Century Foundation and an associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University. She conducts both qualitative and quantitative research on housing policy, educational policy, and urban inequality. For more on housing vouchers, read her latest Journal of Public Policy Analysis and Management article, “‘Living Here Changed My Whole Perspective’: How escaping inner-city poverty shapes neighborhood and housing choice.”

Jessi Stafford is the director of digital content for The Century Foundation. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Media Studies at The New School and holds a Bachelor of Journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications from the University of Missouri.

Researcher

Kathryn Reed

Editors

Joe Miller and Jason Renker

Art Director

Abby Grimshaw

Developer

Chris Gosling

Photography

Abby Grimshaw

Video

Jacqueline Singer, Jessi Stafford and Abby Grimshaw

Illustrations

Abby Grimshaw

Layout and Design

Abby Grimshaw and Chris Gosling

Special Thanks

Barbara Samuels, ACLU of Maryland; Jim Evans, Metropolitan Baltimore Quadel; Philip Tegler, Poverty & Race Research Action Council; and Ebony Gayles, Poverty & Race Research Action Council

We would like to thank the National Science Foundation (SES-1124004), the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation for supporting the data collection and analysis for the study this project is based on, and Jennifer Darrah, the co-author of the study published in JPAM. The authors also thank the following colleagues who were fellow fieldworkers on this project: Philip Garboden, Peter Rosenblatt, Anna Rhodes, Barbara Condliffe, Eva Rosen, Elizabeth Talbert, Nazish Zafar, and Laura Bartos. Stephen Wong, Abigail Weber, Jennifer Ferentz, and Ann Lubben provided additional data analyses. We also thank Kathryn Edin and Michael Oakes for their thoughtful input on the study and article. 

Opening photo on iPad: Flickr Creative Commons