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Cityscape: Volume 17 Number 1 | Article 2


Affordable, Accessible, Efficient Communities

Volume 17, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Driving to Opportunities: Voucher Users, Cars, and Movement to Sustainable Neighborhoods

Rolf Pendall
Christopher Hayes
Arthur (Taz) George
Urban Institute

Casey Dawkins
Jae Sik Jeon
Elijah Knaap
University of Maryland

Evelyn Blumenberg
Gregory Pierce
University of California, Los Angeles

Michael Smart
Rutgers University


Tenant-based rental vouchers have expanded housing choice for millions of low-income households, yet assisted households still face hurdles when trying to secure housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods with desirable economic, social, and environmental characteristics. Although inadequate transportation is arguably one of the most important hurdles to securing housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods, existing studies of voucher users’ location choices have n ot yet explored the connections between transportation access and residential location outcomes. This article discusses the results from a recent study that attempts to close that gap. Our study draws on data from the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing demonstration program and the Welfare-to- Work Voucher Program, two residential mobility initiatives that randomly assigned rental vouchers to low-income households seeking housing assistance. Using a variety of approaches—including cluster analysis, bivariate comparisons, and multivariate analysis—we find evidence of important connections between automobile access and improved neighborhood conditions. We also find that neighborhoods with similar levels of poverty exhibit a wide array of other characteristics that matter differently for different kinds of households. Our findings suggest a need for more integrated and holistic planning and program development to account for the importance of both cars and transit to low-income households’ well-being.

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