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Creating Moves to Opportunity

Creating Moves to Opportunity

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Understanding Strategies to Support Access to Opportunity Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods matter for the well-being of families. Moving from lower-opportunity neighborhoods to higher-opportunity neighborhoods has been shown to improve later-life outcomes for children whose families move and may reduce the intergenerational persistence of poverty. Motivated by this, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and King County Housing Authority (KCHA) have implemented Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) to evaluate whether a set of interventions are effective at encouraging families with children to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods.

The Housing Choice Voucher program provides low-income families with rental assistance to enable them to rent housing units in the private rental market. Despite the element of choice inherent with a Voucher, and their ability to rent anywhere they choose, families tend to use their Vouchers in only a few neighborhoods in any given area. Because of this, we believe that there are barriers to renting in some neighborhoods and that by addressing those barriers families will be able to live in areas that may be more beneficial to their children in the long term.

Project Framework

To ensure that rental barriers are addressed through locally-relevant and appropriate strategies, CMTO involves frontline staff, families, external researchers and other stakeholders in a 3-year-long process to test and refine services. The services provided fall into these categories:

  • Opportunity Area education
  • Marketability coaching
  • Housing search assistance
  • Financial assistance
  • Expedited lease-up

CMTO uses a randomized study design in which families may, or may not, receive a set of CMTO services in addition to standard services available through the Voucher program. CMTO is designed as a two phase project, with the initial phase running from early 2018 through mid 2019 and a second phase beginning in July 2019. During Phase I we learned that a set of services is effective in supporting opportunity area moves for families with young children, and the during Phase II we aim to learn which strategies are most effective and cost efficient.

Learn more about the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) project at: https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/creating-moves-opportunity-seattle-king-county