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HUD's Moving to Opportunity and Family Options Study Research

Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing (MTO) ran from 1994 to 1998 and involved 4,600 families from high-poverty public housing projects in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. These families were randomly assigned to one of three groups: those who received a housing voucher that they could use only in low-poverty neighborhoods, those who received a housing voucher without that limitation, or those who could continue to live in public housing. Participating families were tracked directly through 2010, and researchers have conducted some matching exercises from later data. The power of the experimental design permits researchers to derive the impact of neighborhood on the lives of low-income families with children without bias from self-selection or other omitted variables.

The Family Options Study (FOS) was a multi-site random assignment experiment designed to understand which housing and services interventions work best for families with children experiencing homelessness and learn whether certain types of families benefit more or less from different interventions. Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 2,282 families in 12 communities nationwide, including more than 5,000 children, were recruited for the study after staying at least 1 week in emergency shelter. Families were randomly assigned to one of four possible interventions that differed in the duration of housing assistance provided or in the intensity of social services offered: (a) a long-term deep housing subsidy, usually in the form of a housing choice voucher, with no specialized services; (b) community based rapid re-housing, which is temporary rental assistance for up to 18 months with limited housing-related services; (c) project-based transitional housing, which is temporary housing for up to 24 months in an agency-controlled building coupled with intensive supportive services; and d) usual care, which was whatever mix of housing and services that homeless families could obtain on their own outside of the demonstration.

Current Research Using HUD's MTO and FOS Data

HUD has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to make the experimental data more available to qualified researchers and more readily matched with other administrative data. By making these data more accessible to qualified researchers, HUD expects to continue the process of evidence building using MTO experimental data to assess the impact of neighborhoods on the lives of low-income families with children and using Family Options Study experimental data to assess housing and services interventions for families with children experiencing homelessness.

Effects of the Moving to Opportunity Housing Mobility Experiment on Health

PI: Theresa Osypuk (University of Minnesota)

Aim: Analyzing data from the interim to the final evaluation, examines health outcomes (i.e., obesity, mental health, physical health, substance use, risky behavior) among youth and adults to improve testing of certain life course hypotheses.

Substitution Bias and Generalizability in Housing Mobility Programs

PI: Robert Collinson (Housing and Urban Development) and Eric Chyn (University of Virginia)

Aim: Analyzes the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Demonstration along with its predecessor, the Gautreaux mobility program, to better understand the neighborhood effects parameters from housing mobility programs.

Effective Homeless Interventions and the Importance of Local Housing Market Conditions

PI: Dirk Early (Southwestern University)

Aim: Determine whether local housing market conditions can affect the impact of the three interventions that comprise the random selection experiment of the Family Options Study.

How Neighborhoods Affect Parental Mental Health, Families, and Child Achievement: Evidence from Moving to Opportunity

PI: Natalie Slopen (University of Maryland)

Aim: Utilize MTO data to investigate how and why neighborhood placement impacts mental health and long term child achievement.

Effects of housing services interventions on neighborhood context and mediators of change in child behaviors in the Family Options Study

PI: Joel Han (Loyola University Chicago)

Aim: Examine the effects of the FOS intervention on children's neighborhood context three years after randomization, and develop mediation models to test intermediary pathways that may explain the effect of permanent subsidized housing on improved child behaviors.

Data-Driven Homeless Services: Learning from the Family Options Study

PI: Patrick Fowler (Washington University)

Aim: Apply data science methods to the Family Options Study to inform data-driven approaches for protecting children experiencing homelessness.

Family Options Study: New Evidence from Linked Administrative Data

PI: Sarah Miller (University of Michigan) and Laura R. Wherry (UCLA)

Aim: Conduct analyses that cover a longer follow up period and span a multitude of outcomes to build new evidence on the long-term effects of this important social experiment on housing stability, economic self-sufficiency, health, and child well-being.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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