This Innovative Use of Housing Vouchers Created Housing Mobility in Baltimore

This Innovative Use of Housing Vouchers Created Housing Mobility in Baltimore
Stefanie DeLuca, Peter Rosenblatt
Housing Policy Debate
Publication Date:
Find Full Text

Can vouchers improve neighborhood and school quality? Stefanie DeLuca and Peter Rosenblatt expand on research showing that exposure to high-poverty neighborhoods can prevent social mobility and hinder achievement outcomes. DeLuca and Rosenblatt used data from the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program (BHMP)—which included targeted vouchers, intensive counseling, workshops, and other programmatic supports—to explore whether such a program leads to long-term improvements in neighborhood and school district quality.

The authors used administrative records from the BHMP to track neighborhoods of residence for 1,800 families for nine years. DeLuca and Rosenblatt used the data to compare families’ neighborhood of origin, the initial address they moved to while participating in the BHMP, and their current address. They compared neighborhood and school zone characteristics in each area and supplemented this quantitative analysis with qualitative analyses from in-depth interviews. The authors illustrate that their findings are different from other research and propose policy implications when explaining why.

Key findings

  • Using housing vouchers in conjunction with supportive counseling and other policy supports can help low-income black families move into more integrated, affluent neighborhoods with better schools.
  • Most families will stay in the more integrated, affluent neighborhoods after they are required to do so and despite subsequent moves. Some families moved to less affluent, less white areas, but these areas were still less segregated and poor than the communities where the families originally resided.
  • Compared with similar families in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, participants in the BHMP live in more integrated, affluent neighborhoods with better school districts.
  • These findings are different from similar studies most likely because BHMP integrated the administration of housing vouchers with adequate counseling and policy supports. Adding these supports was key to the program’s success.