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Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing

Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing (MTO) is a 10-year research demonstration that combines tenant-based rental assistance with housing counseling to help very low-income families move from poverty-stricken urban areas to low-poverty neighborhoods.

One of the advantages that tenant-based rental assistance has over subsidized housing projects and public housing is that it allows the recipient to choose modestly priced private housing in neighborhoods that can offer ample educational, employment, and social opportunities. However, many households receiving Section 8 rental assistance are confronted by an array of barriers--market conditions, discrimination, lack of information and/or transportation, among others--that force them to rent housing in neighorhoods of intense poverty. Moving to Opportunity tests the impact of housing counseling and other assistance on the housing choices of Section 8 households, as well as the long-term effects of access to low-poverty neighborhoods on the housing, employment, and educational achievements of the assisted households. The goal is to develop more effective mobility strategies for recipients of tenant-based housing assistance in metropolitan areas throughout the Nation.

Type of Assistance:
Five public housing authorities (Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City) administer HUD contracts under this 10-year demonstration. Within the PHAs, randomly selected experimental groups of households with children receive housing counseling and vouchers that must be used in areas with less than 10 percent poverty. Families chosen for the experimental group receive tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance that helps pay their rent, as well as housing counseling to help them find and successfully use housing in low-poverty areas. Two control groups are included to test the effects of the program: one group already receiving Section 8 assistance and another just coming into the Section 8 program.

Eligible Grantees:
The Nation's 21 largest PHAs were invited to apply for funding. The PHAs of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City were selected for this experimental program.

Eligible Customers:
Low-income families with children can apply for the limited number of places in the demonstration. By February 1996, about one-half of the experimental group and more than one-fourth of the control groups had been chosen and had rented appropriate housing.

Eligible Activities:
Households chosen for the demonstration's experimental group receive housing counseling and vouchers for rental housing in areas with less than 10 percent poverty. Of the two control groups, one will continue to receive their current Section 8 assistance and the other will begin receiving regular Section 8 assistance. The PHAs receive funds for their administrative costs, additional vouchers, and housing counseling costs.

Applications were limited to 21 largest PHAs and the program is now restricted to the 5 selected. HUD is not accepting new applications for MTO.

Technical Guidance:
MTO is authorized under Section 152 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 and is jointly administered by HUD's Offices of Policy Development and Research, Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and Public and Indian Housing. Contact Joan Kraft, telephone (202) 708-4504, x109.

For More Information:
MTO and other housing mobility initiatives are discussed in a report from HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, Expanding Housing Choice for HUD-Assisted Families and in "Residential Mobility Programs," the first of HUD USER's Urban Policy Briefs. Promoting Housing Choice in HUD's Rental Assistance Programs, the first of several planned interim assessments of the progress of MTO, was published in April 1996. All of these publications are available from HUD USER.