Revisiting existing data proves neighborhoods matter to children’s success

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A fiscal research center says previous conclusions from a Federal program study on neighborhoods are unsound


November 04, 2014

Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons

Back in 1992, congress authorized a program called Moving to Opportunity (MTO), which offered housing vouchers for low-income families to move somewhere with low poverty.
A 15-year study of MTO found that moving to a better neighborhood did not improve the quality of life for most families in the program, and many observers drew the conclusion that, contrary to intuition, neighborhoods do not significantly affect a child’s growth and future. Douglas Rice, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, writes in the Huffington Post that the MTO study was flawed in multiple ways – for example MTO families still sent their children to low-quality, racially segregated schools.
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