Policy Briefs: Metropolitan Housing and Communities: A Roof Over Their Heads

Saying Good-Bye

Robin E. Smith, Kadija Ferryman

Under the HOPE VI program, many of the most distressed public housing developments in the nation have been demolished or substantially renovated, and the program had the challenge of successfully relocating vulnerable seniors in these developments. The question of how seniors handle relocation is an important one, and prior evidence suggests poor outcomes when older adults are involuntarily moved. This brief describes the relocation experiences of older adults in light of their special circumstances, particularly health, social support and social mobility. Findings are based on survey and interview information gathered from older adults in HOPE VI developments in five cities (Atlantic City, NJ; Chicago, IL; Durham, NC; Richmond, CA; and Washington, D.C.).

Publication Date: January 31, 2006

Public Housing Transformation and the "Hard to House"

Mary K. Cunningham, Susan J. Popkin, Martha R. Burt

Public housing transformation has largely failed to address the more complex needs of "hard-to-house" residents who have relied on public housing as a source of stable, if less than ideal, housing. The hard-to-house such as high-need households, grandparents caring for grandchildren, families with disabled members, very large households, and multiple-barrier families. For these vulnerable families, the same public housing transformation that may offer better housing and new opportunities for other tenants can be just one more blow. This brief lays out a strategy for serving hard-to-house residents who remain in distressed public housing or who are experiencing hardship as a result of HOPE VI-related relocation.

Publication Date: June 09, 2005

Moving to Better Neighborhoods with Mobility Counseling

Mary K. Cunningham, Noah Sawyer

This brief examines the efficacy of providing housing mobility assistance to families with vouchers by examining the Housing Opportunity Program in Chicago. To help families move to opportunity neighborhoods, HOP provides housing search counseling and unit referrals, free credit reports and budget counseling, transportation to view units, expedited housing inspections, workshops on landlord-tenant law, and post-move support. The authors find that voucher holders who enroll in HOP and receive mobility services are significantly more likely to move to opportunity neighborhoods. Vulnerable households, large families, black households and public housing relocatees are less likely to move to opportunity neighborhoods. [View the corresponding press release]

Publication Date: March 07, 2005

Resilient Children in Distressed Neighborhoods

Michael Eiseman, Elizabeth Cove, Susan J. Popkin

The HOPE VI program can profoundly affect the lives of children, who are the most vulnerable residents of distressed public housing and particularly likely to suffer from the stress of relocation. However, some children in the HOPE VI Panel Study are doing surprisingly well, apparently succeeding in school and thriving despite the challenges they face. In this brief, we explore the factors that help make these children better able to cope successfully with the obstacles in their environment. We find that children of better-educated parents, children whose parents are highly engaged in their schooling, and socially competent children are more likely to be resilient, while children with depressed parents are less likely to be resilient.

Publication Date: February 07, 2005

How Are HOPE VI Families Faring? Income and Employment

Diane K. Levy, Deborah R. Kaye

This brief examines income and employment findings for working-age adults two years after the start of relocation at the five HOPE VI Panel Study sites. At follow-up in 2003, though the share of employed respondents reporting incomes greater than $15,000 rose, the majority of household incomes remained below the poverty level. Overall employment rates were unchanged since baseline, though there was significant cycling into and out of employment. We found that poor health, the presence of children younger than six years old, lack of jobs nearby, and poor transportation were barriers to employment.

Publication Date: October 07, 2004

How Are HOPE VI Families Faring? Health

Laura E. Harris, Deborah R. Kaye

One goal of the HOPE VI program is to address the social and economic needs of the original residents, and this brief urges serious consideration of their health problems. Original residents from public housing developments being revitalized as part of the HOPE VI program have high rates of many chronic health problems, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Their rates are significantly higher than those among other poor and minority subgroups nationally. We discuss policy implications that relate to HOPE VI relocation and redevelopment, and suggest realistic expectations for economic improvement among these adults.

Publication Date: October 07, 2004

How Are HOPE VI Families Faring? Children

Susan J. Popkin, Michael Eiseman, Elizabeth Cove

The HOPE VI program can profoundly affect the lives of children, who are the most vulnerable residents of distressed public housing and particularly likely to suffer from the stress of relocation. This brief examines the impact of the program on children and youth. We find that children in the HOPE VI Panel Study have generally benefited from relocation. Relocatees live in better housing in safer neighborhoods, and their children attend schools that are less poor and, the parents believe, higher quality and safer than those in their original developments. Respondents who relocated with vouchers have benefited more than those who moved to other public housing. These findings suggest that families with children should be encouraged to select vouchers and receive ongoing support to help them adjust after relocation.

Publication Date: October 07, 2004

An Improved Living Environment? Relocation Outcomes for HOPE VI Relocatees

Mary K. Cunningham

This brief examines housing assistance outcomes, two years after the start of relocation at five HOPE VI panel study sites. Overall, 61 percent of the 736 respondents had relocated by the time of the follow-up survey. We find that vouchers are the primary relocation tool, and, not surprisingly, residents who are dissatisfied with public housing were more likely to relocate with vouchers. If handled properly, relocation could significantly improve residents' lives by helping them move to quality housing in safe neighborhoods. However, a number of challenges with relocation remain, including tight rental markets and limited relocation services.

Publication Date: September 17, 2004

An Improved Living Environment? Housing Quality Outcomes for HOPE VI Relocatees

Jennifer Comey

The HOPE VI program strives to improve the living environment for residents of the most severally distressed public housing. This brief examines whether residents in a five-site panel study experienced improvements in their physical housing quality two years after the relocation process began. We find that housing quality improved greatly for those who moved from the original developments, particularly for those using housing choice vouchers. However, the improvements in housing quality still lag behind poor renters nationwide.

Publication Date: September 17, 2004

An Improved Living Environment? Neighborhood Outcomes for HOPE VI Relocatees

Larry Buron

The HOPE VI program strives to improve neighborhood living conditions in some of the nation's most distressed public housing developments by revitalizing the site and by helping residents move to less distressed neighborhoods. This brief examines HOPE IV's progress, two years after the start of relocation at the five HOPE VI panel study sites, in "improving the living environment for residents of severely distressed public housing" and "providing housing that will avoid or decrease the concentration of very low-income families." We find that neighborhood conditions have greatly improved for relocatees, particularly those who now live in private housing.

Publication Date: September 17, 2004