(WP-12-F98) "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Impacts of a Housing Mobility Program"
Lawrence Katz




This paper examines the short-run impacts of a change in residential neighborhood on the well being of low-income families, using evidence from a program in which eligibility for a mobility subsidy was determined by random lottery. We provide a first look at the experiences of 540 families at the Boston site of Moving To Opportunity (MTO), a demonstration program currently underway in five cities. One to three years after participants enter the program, we find that: 1.) Both Experimental and Section 8 Comparison families are fairly successful in using their subsidies to move out of high poverty neighborhoods. 2.) An analysis of participants surveyed indicates much lower criminal victimization rates and much higher self-reports of neighborhood safety for the Experimental group that the Control group. 3.) Employment rates and earnings levels of household heads in all groups have essentially doubled from 1994 to 1997. 4.) No significant differences are apparent between the labor market outcomes of the three program groups. 5.) We also find that children in the Experimental and Section 8 comparison groups attend schools with substantially higher test scores, be we observe little difference between groups on reported absenteeism from school of hours spent on homework.