Senior Policy Analyst
The 2019 funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes funds for an important initiative, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) mobility demonstration. As we’ve written, the HCV program can do much more to help voucher families with children move to safer neighborhoods with high-performing schools. Congress passed the mobility demonstration to help families do so after reviewing compelling research that shows that growing up in low-poverty neighborhoods with higher-performing schools improves children’s academic achievement and long-term chances of success, on average, and reduces intergenerational poverty.
Now that the President and Congress have taken the important step of funding regional housing mobility programs, HUD must implement the demonstration program quickly and effectively. Over the next few months, HUD should:
While HUD prepares to implement the program, public housing agencies and advocates across the country should begin considering whether participating in it would help families in their area. If so, local agencies and their partners should:
As part of the competition for funding, agencies and their partners must submit a Regional Housing Mobility Plan that identifies the strategies they would adopt for their local mobility program, and the families they’d target for services. The services offered might include: informing families of the advantages of higher-opportunity areas; working directly with families to address barriers they may need to overcome to move to a higher-opportunity area, such as by providing financial coaching; recruiting more landlords to participate; providing housing search assistance to help families find affordable units that meet their individual needs; and providing post-move services, such as regular check-ins, resource coordination, and landlord/tenant mediation, to help families living in areas of opportunity remain there.
Agencies also could adopt a policy of using housing assistance payments funds for security deposits, which can be a significant barrier for poor families to move to higher-opportunity areas, where landlords require these payments.