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Moving to work Retrospective

The HUD-sponsored Moving to Work (MTW) Retrospective Evaluation produced six reports that together provide the most comprehensive description to date of the housing assistance provided by MTW agencies, the households served by MTW agencies, and the success of MTW agencies in relation to the demonstration’s statutory objectives of cost effectiveness, self-sufficiency, and housing choice. The Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration allows selected public housing agencies (PHAs) to test new ways of providing housing assistance to low-income households,including changing rent rules and occupancy requirements. Yet, there are very few studies of how well the MTW agencies as a group have performed in relation to the demonstration’s objectives. To learn more, HUD sponsored a retrospective evaluation of MTW designed to assess the success of the demonstration based on administrative data. The evaluation produced an interactive feature hosted by the Urban Institute and six reports.


The U.S. Housing Act of 1937 created the public housing program and provided that federal funds go to local housing agencies, entities authorized by states to “engage in or assist in the development or operation of low-income housing.” (See the U.S. Housing Act of 1937.) Since then, innovations in federal housing policy produced several different programs of federal subsidy for low-income housing—some of these bypassed local housing agencies, some gave PHAs new tools. The MTW demonstration, enacted in 1996, is the only major initiative that targeted the role of PHAs in the provision of federal housing assistance. It was intended to allow selected PHAs to

test various approaches for providing and administering housing assistance that: reduce cost and achieve greater cost effectiveness in Federal expenditures; give incentives to families with children where the head of household is working, seeking work, or is preparing for work by participating in job training, educational programs, or programs that assist people to obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient; and increase housing choices for low-income families. (See the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996.)

MTW agencies may also use funds appropriated for the public housing and housing choice voucher programs for any allowable use under either program, or for initiatives outside of those two programs known as local, non-traditional programs (described in PIH Notice 2011-45). This is known as fund “flexibility.”

For more information on MTW, see hud.gov/mtw.


Evaluating the Effects of Santa Clara County Housing Authority’s Rent Reform. In response to sequestration, in July 2013, Santa Clara County Housing Authority (SCCHA) increased the proportion of tenant income paid toward rent in the housing choice voucher program from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income, and changed voucher size rules. This study reveals the impacts of the new rent policy on employment, income, and housing subsidy amounts and receipt.

The Impact of the Moving to Work Demonstration on the Per Household Costs of Federal Housing Assistance. This is the first study to examine MTW agencies’ cost effectiveness using data from before and after public housing agencies (PHAs) joined the MTW demonstration. It shows that joining MTW did not increase the cost per household served, and that MTW agencies added new households to their assistance roles.


“coming soon”

Quick Links to Reports:

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