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Housing’s and Neighborhoods’ Role in Shaping Children’s Future

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Fall 2014   


        Housing’s and Neighborhoods’ Role in Shaping Children’s Future
        How Housing Mobility Affects Education Outcomes for Low- Income Children
        Protecting Children From Unhealthy Homes and Housing Instability

Housing’s and Neighborhoods’ Role in Shaping Children’s Future


      • Research devoted to the ways in which housing matters for families and children has focused on the connections between children’s development and well-being and various dimensions of housing such as quality, crowding, affordability, housing assistance, ownership, and stability.
      • Poor physical quality of housing is a strong predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in children, with lead-based paint and mold or moisture problems presenting two well-known threats to the welfare of children.
      • Federal recognition of lead’s deleterious effects on children has led to concerted efforts to remove lead-based paint from all housing, prohibit the residential use of lead-based paint, and address lead-contaminated dust and soil.
      • Neighborhoods also play a critical role in the well-being of children and families. Policymakers and practitioners are employing holistic approaches that consider housing within its neighborhood and community context.

A group of preschool children with adults helping them with an organized, coordinated play activity.
Early childhood education and enrichment activities are emphasized strongly in the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which is aimed at helping communities turn neighborhoods into places of opportunity. Photo courtesy: U.S. Department of Education
Children, minorities, the poor, and people with chronic medical conditions or behavioral health issues are disproportionately affected by living in inadequate housing and neighborhoods. Children are particularly vulnerable to influences from their residential surroundings; the quality of the environment in which young people learn and grow has serious implications for their physical health, behavioral and emotional welfare, school achievement, and economic opportunity, affecting them directly and indirectly through its impact on parents and the significant adults in their lives.1

A wide array of research has been devoted to the ways in which housing matters for families and children, but methodological challenges in many of the studies limit the ability of this research to definitively inform policy decisions (see “How Housing Mobility Affects Education Outcomes for Low-Income Children,” p. 17).2 These investigations, however, have identified various dimensions of housing — such as quality (the physical condition and safety of the home), crowding, affordability, housing assistance, ownership, and stability — that have been linked to children’s development and well-being. This article examines what researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders are learning about the effects of housing and neighborhood conditions on children’s outcomes and describes how this information is being incorporated into policies and initiatives designed to improve these conditions.

Physical Conditions of Housing

Of all the dimensions of housing, poor physical quality is a strong predictor of emotional and behavioral problems.3 The “Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: Report to Congress” notes a “decades-long trend of improvements to the nation’s housing stock” due to rehabilitation, the demolition of obsolete units, and more stringent building codes.4 In 2011, however, an estimated 6 percent of households with children aged 0 to 17 were living in inadequate housing with severe or moderate physical problems, including plumbing and heating deficiencies; rodent and cockroach infestations; and structural issues such as cracks and holes in walls and ceilings, water leaks, broken windows, and crumbling foundations, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.5 Although Holupka and Newman find that physical housing conditions for children have generally improved over the past four decades, income and racial disparities persist, and disproportionate shares of poor and minority children live in inadequate housing (see fig. 1).6 Children living in these conditions are at risk of behavioral and developmental problems in addition to infectious disease, chronic disease, and injury.7

A bar chart that shows that inadequate housing is most likely experienced by low-income and minority households.
Source: United States Census Bureau. 2011. American Housing Survey National and Metropolitan Public Use File.
Two well-known physical problems in housing that threaten the welfare of children are lead-based paint and mold or moisture problems. Found in older homes, lead-based paint is highly toxic, especially to young children, causing damage to the brain, kidneys, nerves, and blood and impairing cognitive and socioemotional development.8 Early childhood exposure to lead has been linked to IQ deficits in children as young as three, visual-motor integration problems, poor school performance and lower levels of proficiency in reading and math, attention and behavioral problems, juvenile delinquency, and an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school.9 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[e]ven low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.”10 This danger is a particular threat to children living in poverty; low-income households have a higher rate of lead-based paint hazards in their homes than do higher-income households (29 percent and 18 percent, respectively).11

Although lead’s deleterious effects on children were recognized as early as the 1920s, it was not until 1971 that the first national legislation, the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act, prohibited lead-based paint in residential structures built or rehabilitated with federal funds. This first step ultimately led to concerted efforts by Congress, HUD, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove lead-based paint in all housing, prohibit the residential use of lead-based paint, and address lead-contaminated dust and soil.12 As a result of these initiatives, the number of U.S. children with lead poisoning has declined by 75 percent over the past 20 years.13 Yet the danger persists; an estimated 22 percent (23.2 million) of all American homes contain one or more lead-based paint hazards. Of these households, 3.6 million have children under 6, and nearly a third of these children are from low-income families.14

Respiratory illnesses stemming from the presence of allergens, mold, and other indoor air pollutants have been linked to poor housing conditions that create or amplify exposure to these agents, such as inadequate heating and ventilation, pest infestation, and moisture problems. Asthma in particular is a leading cause of childhood disability and illness as well as higher rates of school absenteeism.15 Of the 7 million U.S. children with asthma, poor minority children are disproportionately afflicted. While “the nation’s overall asthma rate is 9.4 percent, the prevalence among black children is 16 percent and 12.2 percent for children in poverty.”16

HUD has expanded and coordinated its efforts with other federal agencies and currently participates in the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children to eliminate asthma triggers such as mold, moisture, secondhand tobacco smoke, and pest infestations and to find effective ways to improve the control of respiratory diseases, particularly in public housing.17 As these conditions have improved, HUD’s Healthy Homes Initiative has expanded its efforts to address any environmental health and safety threats (see “Protecting Children From Unhealthy Homes and Housing Instability,” p. 27) by focusing on the need to address injury hazards as part of comprehensive home interventions; the initiative also supports research on strategies to reduce home-related injuries in children.18

In a comprehensive analysis of the impact of multiple housing dimensions on child development, Coley et al. found the strongest relationship with poor housing conditions. The researchers also considered parental and family influences as well as multiple aspects of child functioning and applied their analysis to different developmental stages for young children, school-age children, and teenagers. The random, representative sample of 2,400 low-income youth aged 2 to 21 lived in moderate- and high-poverty neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. The researchers followed the subjects and their families from 1999 to 2005, focusing on three areas of the children’s development: reading and math skills, emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, and behavioral difficulties. These researchers found that children living in homes with “leaking roofs, broken windows, rodents, non-functioning heaters or stoves, peeling paint, exposed wiring, or unsafe or unclean environments” were more likely (although no causality was established) to have emotional and behavioral problems, and in greater quantity, than children in better quality homes. If these housing problems worsened during the study period for the children in Coley et al.’s sample, the emotional and behavioral difficulties also increased. Reading and math skills were not strongly linked to housing quality, nor was there significant evidence of differences in the housing experiences of differently aged children. Finally, family processes were affected by low-quality housing.19 Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor at Boston College, explains that housing quality is associated with children’s functioning, in part, “through its association with the mother’s functioning. Very often the mother acts as a conduit through which the environment influences children. Mothers in poor housing show higher levels of emotional and psychological distress and parenting stress that in turn are partly responsible for the association between housing quality and child outcomes.”20

An overly crowded living situation, with its lack of privacy, lack of control, and overstimulation, can also potentially affect a child’s well-being and development.21 Definitions of overcrowding vary, but “more than one person per room” is commonly used.22 Although crowded conditions for children have declined since 1975, an estimated 10.8 percent of U.S. children lived in overcrowded homes in 2005; the rates were higher for poor (21.2%) and near-poor (17.9%) children. However, a total estimate for children living in crowded conditions in 2012 (14%) suggests that this problem may have worsened.23 The circumstances in which overcrowding occurs vary widely and the research literature leaves enough questions unanswered that general conclusions about its impact are difficult to draw. The influence of many variables remains unknown — for example, cultural preferences, the ages of household members, household composition, and interfamily obligations.24 Nevertheless, child development studies have noted the heightened stress, noise levels, and lack of privacy that crowding can create as well as the related psychological distress, detached parenting, family turmoil, poor school adjustment, and reduced social and cognitive competency.25 Some studies have linked crowded housing to physical health, including the transmission of infectious disease, and to higher rates of mental health issues.26 In two studies, a nationally representative sample and a representative sample in Los Angeles County, Solari and Mare find that living in crowded conditions appeared to negatively affect math and reading achievement, which has implications for the adult socioeconomic status of children.27 In another large study of 15-year-olds in France, Goux and Maurin find that as the number of persons per room in the home increased the probability of being held back a grade in primary or junior high rose significantly regardless of family size or socioeconomic status.28

Affordability of Housing

A classroom showing students excitedly interacting with a teacher.
These students at Watkins Elementary School in Washington, DC are engaged in a high-quality educational experience that matters in the trajectory of well-being they will follow into adulthood. Photo courtesy: U.S. Department of Education. Paul Woods, photographer
Housing expenditures are conventionally considered affordable if they do not exceed 30 percent of family or household income. Since 1975, housing has become increasingly unaffordable for poor and minority families, and households with children that are burdened by housing costs have more than doubled.29 Sixty-five percent of children in low-income families now live in households that are “housing cost burdened,” meaning that they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing-related expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance.30 This does not take into account the costs of housing plus the costs of transportation, which are increasingly viewed as the combined “cost of place.”31 In 2011, among all very low-income families with worst case housing needs — those who receive no government housing assistance and pay 50 percent or more of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate housing, or both — 42.8 percent were households with children, a substantial increase from 34.6 percent in 2007.32 Housing cost burdens and the inability to afford adequate housing are often associated with housing instability and mobility for families with children33.

There are two primary schools of thought about the effect of unaffordable housing on children. One theory is that more expensive housing creates hardship for families; having less money available for other necessities such as food and medicine undermines economic stability and increases parental stress, thereby having an adverse effect on family and child well-being.34 According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the average severely housing cost-burdened, low-income family with children that paid 50 percent or more of its income for shelter in 2011 had about $565 left for savings and all other monthly expenses — only half of what unburdened households had available.35 Being housing cost burdened clearly curtails a family’s ability to afford essentials such as food and medicine that relate to health and positive development.

An alternative theory suggests that the benefits of living in a higher-priced housing market and a better neighborhood, such as better-performing schools, a safer environment with lower crime rates, and other resources, outweigh the hardship of a housing cost burden, resulting in a worthwhile tradeoff that benefits children.36 Sandra Newman, professor at Johns Hopkins University, points out that “when you pay more for housing — whether in rent or the purchase price of an owned home — you’re also buying a bundle of neighborhood and community characteristics.”37 Newman notes that if children benefit from higher-quality neighborhoods and communities, then taking on a high housing cost burden might produce better child outcomes. On the other hand, if spending a high proportion of income on housing crowds out essential spending on children, living in a higher-quality neighborhood may not neutralize or overcome the negative effects of unaffordability on child outcomes such as cognitive performance.38 Within a different sample of Coley et al.’s study, however, children in low-income families that were spending the most on housing and living in the relatively best-quality housing and neighborhoods had the highest levels of emotional and behavioral functioning and the best reading scores. These families were also more likely to own their home and less likely to live in government-assisted housing, and they resided in neighborhoods with low levels of social disorder, crime, and assisted housing.39

Few studies have compared the effects of affordable and unaffordable housing on children. In one exploratory study, Harkness and Newman find that affordable housing favorably affects older children, raising the question of whether the effect might be cumulative.40 Other research indicates that children in higher-priced housing experienced no differential impact in behavior, health, or school performance compared with those in lower-priced markets, and parents in higher-priced housing did not experience more stress.41

The difficulty in these investigations lies in untangling, sorting, and clarifying which factors act independently on child outcomes, directly or indirectly. More recently, Newman and Holupka have tested the effects of affordability, measured by housing cost burden, on low-income children’s cognitive achievement, health, and behavior and explored the potential benefits of less affordable housing in higher-priced markets. Their results indicate that although housing affordability does not affect children’s behavior or health, a significant relationship exists between cognitive performance and housing affordability. This relationship takes the form of an inverted U, in which better cognitive achievement occurred in the middle; cognitive performance was lower at both low and high levels of housing cost burden.42

Extending their investigation to examine whether families free of high housing costs spend more on their children’s welfare, Newman and Holupka followed this study with one that explored the relationship between spending on child enrichment (such as child care, school materials, books, outings, and music lessons) and housing cost burden. Again, the researchers found an inverted-U relationship. As the housing cost burden rose from 10 to 30 percent, spending on child enrichment rose by an average of $170. As the housing cost burden continued to rise from 30 to 60 percent, child enrichment expenditures fell by an average of $98. Thus, both child enrichment spending levels and cognitive performance measures were low at the extremes of the U-shaped housing cost-burden continuum. These scholars hypothesize that child-related expenditures, particularly for enrichment, may be one way in which housing affordability influences children’s cognitive development and well-being.43

Newman notes that “an intriguing aspect of this is that housing cost burden is not simply a reflection of income….Whether this pattern is explained by the constrained choices parents are forced to make, their values and motivations, or other unknown factors is yet to be determined.”44

Discussions about the role of housing affordability in the well-being of children are also concerned with the part that homeownership and subsidized housing may have in their welfare and that of their families.

Homeownership. Results of studies of the relationship of homeownership to the well-being of children are mixed, and the meaning of those results is subject to debate. Studies have indicated positive links between homeownership and education, health, and behavioral outcomes for children, attributing them to factors such as greater stability, reduced rates of student turnover in schools, better quality homes that owners keep properly repaired and upgraded, and higher-quality neighborhoods containing other invested owners. More recently, some researchers have come to think that self-selection, rather than homeownership itself, explains these effects; they argue that homeowners have characteristics that differ from renters in ways that also positively affect child outcomes.45 Another concern about the body of research on homeownership’s effect on children is the existence of unrecognized, untested, or unmeasured factors that might influence study outcomes, leading to spurious conclusions.46

Researchers presently looking at this homeownership question see little conclusive evidence about the effect of homeownership on children’s cognitive achievement, behavior problems, or health.47 For example, Coley et al. recently looked for relationships between housing contexts and child functioning that differed by age group. Although a quarter of their sample lived in owned homes rather than rental or assisted housing, the children and adolescents in the three groups exhibited few differences in emotional, behavioral, or cognitive functioning.48

A large group of volunteers posing for a picture in the playground they’ve just built.
In one day, volunteers from DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, the DC Housing Authority, JetBlue, and the Kenilworth-Parkside community built a new place for children to play in the Kenilworth Courts. The project was in partnership with KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that creates play spaces for children. Photo courtesy: DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative
Nevertheless, the existence of a connection between homeownership and stability, regarded as a good outcome for children, continues to be inferred from other studies such as the one in which Theodus et al. found children who remained in the same school (40%) during a three-year period were likelier than those who changed schools (34%) to live in an owner-occupied home.49 Although homeownership does not necessarily increase residential stability, researchers need to learn more about the relationship between the two because stability is important to the welfare of children and families.50 Further research that addresses these questions is necessary before it can be determined whether a causal link exists between homeownership and child well-being and, if so, what constitutes the nature of that causality.

Subsidized Housing. Approximately one-third of households living in public assisted housing — and 43 percent with vouchers — have children under the age of 18.51 The impact on children of residing in subsidized housing has been examined from several angles. Housing assistance does allow the neediest families to enjoy decent housing and adequate living space. Overcrowding is avoided in most subsidized housing because of program rules that prescribe a certain number of bedrooms depending on family size. Subsidies often reduce stress for families by lowering rents, eliminating the risks of rent increases and evictions, and raising household income enough to allow more resources and options for children.52 In some cases, housing subsidies place families closer to better-performing schools.53 Some types of subsidized housing, however, have placed families near schools that perform worse than schools near families in poverty. A recent study finds that voucher holders and public housing residents tend to live in neighborhoods with lower-performing schools than renters and other poor households.54

Various studies suggest that children living in subsidized households do experience certain benefits, including a greater likelihood of being adequately nourished and physically healthy than children in similar families on a waiting list for housing assistance, favorable educational outcomes, the stability and social connections that support academic success, self-sufficiency, and future economic attainment.55 Massey et al.’s recent study of Ethel R. Lawrence Homes, an affordable housing development in Mt. Laurel Township, New Jersey, is an example. This development for low- and middle-income families effectively blends into and reflects the layout and physical characteristics of the surrounding affluent suburbs. The townhomes house families earning 10 to 80 percent of the area median income. Children in these families benefit from decent housing and a neighborhood that is safer than their previous home, an environment that is less economically and racially segregated, schools with less crime and violence, and better quality schools with quiet places to study, and they show improved grades as a result.56

Mobility, Stability, Schools, and Neighborhood Effects

Residential stability can provide children and families with a firm foundation from which to expand opportunity.57 On the other hand, family relocation, with its potential to disrupt relationships with the school peers and friends in the neighborhood that constitute a child’s support system, can have the opposite effect, negatively affecting school performance and behavior.58 Many factors enter into the decision to move, such as the desire to secure a better or safer neighborhood; for example, three-fourths of the participants in the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing (MTO) demonstration program listed safety as the first or second most important reason for enrolling in the program, which enabled them to move to better neighborhoods. Other reasons for relocating were to have a larger home or a better school, to lower the cost of housing, to recoup from eviction or foreclosure, to adjust to changes in family composition, to adapt to loss of employment or other resources, to be nearer to a job, or to be closer to child care.59

Cohen and Wardrip’s analysis finds that poor and near-poor households with children moved more often within a two-year period than did other households with children, and their reasons for relocating were frequently associated with housing cost burdens and changes in income. On initial receipt of a subsidy, households were more likely to move — to better housing or to a public housing unit — than families without a subsidy. Households that lose a housing subsidy are 10 times more likely to change neighborhoods than those without subsidies.60 Burkham et al. also found that decisions to relocate tend to be related to family socioeconomic status and that socially disadvantaged children change school with more frequency than others, particularly during the first two years of school.61 And in surveys of distressed, low-income neighborhoods in 10 cities, a large share of moves in the beginning and middle part of the 2000s were “churning” moves made frequently by vulnerable families. Of the 28 percent of families with children in these neighborhoods who moved annually, 13 percent were churners, moving only short distances without making any gains in neighborhood satisfaction or amenities — usually as a response to financial problems.62

Two young boys riding bikes in their neighborhood.
Safe streets and neighborhoods are high priorities for families, especially those with children. Photo courtesy: Burden, photographer
The impact of relocation on children has been the subject of numerous research inquiries. The outcomes for children operate not only directly but indirectly, through extrafamilial contexts and parental stress and behaviors. In general, moving is associated negatively with school performance, heightened stress levels, and socioemotional functioning for children and their parents.63 In some instances, moves have ultimately resulted in improved physical and mental health: adults and girls participating in MTO experienced less depression and fewer conduct disorders 10 to 15 years after moving to low-poverty neighborhoods. Boys participating in MTO, however, experienced higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and conduct disorders.64 In other studies of the impact of mobility programs, outcomes for families and children have been better if the target neighborhoods were integrated, of high quality, and well-resourced and if movers received adequate counseling assistance before and after the move.65

Other research indicates that although children have some resilience and are seemingly able to recover from a single move and close any resultant achievement gaps, the effects of frequent relocating appear to be cumulative and increasingly difficult to surmount; with multiple moves children face a higher likelihood of having to repeat a grade, being suspended or expelled, and performing academically near the bottom of the class. For frequent movers, each move can intensify the odds of having problems in school; children and adolescents in families with a higher than average number of moves experience more emotional and behavioral problems than do those who move less often.66

The strong connection that RAND Corporation scholar Heather Schwartz found between lower mobility, school quality, and academic performance in Montgomery County, Maryland adds weight to hypotheses that residential stability and good quality schools in low-poverty neighborhoods make a significant difference in outcomes and opportunities for children. Over a 5- to 7-year period, children in public housing who attended Montgomery County’s most advantaged schools outperformed their counterparts who attended the district’s least advantaged elementary schools in both math and reading. These children were able to attend good schools because these were the children’s neighborhood schools; the county’s longstanding zoning policy allows the public housing agency to buy one-third of the inclusionary zoning homes set aside in each new subdivision to rent or sell at below-market prices. Families in Schwartz’s sample had been living in public housing in low-poverty neighborhoods for an average of eight years and attending academically high-ranking schools. This residential stability, concluded Schwartz, allowed the children to garner the longer-term benefit of attending low-poverty schools that led to improved academic outcomes. The longer that public housing children attended the better schools, the more the initial math and reading achievement gaps between them and their nonpoor peers narrowed.67 In weighing the relative benefits of these findings, Schwartz posits a ripple effect that starts with housing: “Housing that’s affordable to a low-income family and is located in a low-poverty place makes it easier to stay over the long term in a high performing school. The combination of residential stability and exposure to a low-poverty school and neighborhood work together to a child’s benefit.68

Although the implication is that affordable housing in low-poverty neighborhoods means access to better schools and improved academic performance, this assumption does not always prove true. The MTO demonstration encouraged relocation from high- to low-poverty neighborhoods, but these moves did not necessarily translate into access to, and benefits from, better schools.69 Even though children in the MTO low-poverty voucher group relocated to neighborhoods with schools that were slightly better than those of the control group, the schools were not sufficiently better. Average test scores in these schools were still in the lowest quarter of state rankings; the marginal improvements were not enough to make a difference in children’s academic achievement.70 The children that Schwartz studied benefited from living in low-poverty neighborhoods, but less so than from attending low-poverty schools, which had twice as large an effect on low-income children’s academic performance.71 This outcome, Schwartz stresses, is specific to a locality with a low prevailing rate of neighborhood poverty, so it does not generalize to areas with high rates of neighborhood poverty. Still, “in general, though the research isn’t firm, poverty in schools has more influence on academic performance than neighborhood poverty.72

Other neighborhood characteristics aside from school quality contribute to improved educational outcomes and child well-being, such as local norms and values; amenities, including convenient daycare and accessible public transportation; safety; and proximity to employment.73 Although community context shapes the housing and neighborhood opportunities available to families with children, that context is articulated by other variables that might include levels of fair housing enforcement, compliance, and education; access to well-child education and healthcare programs; and levels of racial, ethnic, and economic integration.

Seeking to identify relationships between housing and neighborhood factors that affect child well-being, Coley et al. recently developed distinct profiles of low-income urban neighborhoods and explored how they might relate to child functioning. Having identified links between lower-quality housing and neighborhood contexts and greater social and economic disadvantage, they conclude that housing dimensions may be acting synergistically in defining neighborhood contexts in which children find more or less developmental support.74

Wayne State University urban affairs professor George Galster’s study of the “neighborhood effect” reveals a complex web of factors that influence residents’ physical, social, and educational outcomes. Neighborhood residents are most likely to be affected by social interactive, environmental, geographic, and institutional factors, which are manifested in such phenomena as neighborhood violence and pollution; social networks; parental stress; public services; socializing across socioeconomic lines; and institutional resources such as schools, charities, medical clinics, and local businesses. The effects these neighborhood characteristics have on children depend on dimensions such as frequency, intensity, timing, thresholds, buffers, and mediation. How these characteristics combine to form a particular neighborhood context at a particular point in time — what Galster, using a medical metaphor, calls the “neighborhood dosage” — needs to be taken into account when studying child outcomes.75 Galster explains, “Different kinds of mechanisms have different saliences for different outcomes and at different points in kids’ lives. So, to generalize to say ‘Okay, this is how neighborhoods affect children’ is just wrong. It’s much more the case that it is all contingent on a lot of things. What outcome are you looking at? What’s the age of the child in question? These are two key elements; it always depends on these two things. Everything is so contingent. Unfortunately, people want certainty and generalization but this is an area that defies that.”76

A Wider Focus From Housing to Neighborhood Context

The body of accumulating evidence about the impact of housing and neighborhoods reinforces the traditional idea that housing matters for child and family outcomes, while it also confirms that housing research and policy has new challenges in light of housing’s influence on human development. From the inception of the 1937 and 1949 Housing Acts, federal housing policy has articulated the goal of “a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family” and has aimed to improve housing.77 Early housing policymakers thought of decent housing in terms of its physical condition. When researchers began understanding the links between housing and its effect on people, policymakers focused on how poor housing conditions made people physically unhealthy.78

By the 1990s, however, it was apparent that housing had a much broader impact on people’s lives than once thought. In 1992, the same year in which Congress passed the authorizing legislation for MTO and HOPE VI was implemented, the congressionally appointed National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing proposed a national action plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing. The commission found families living in deteriorated housing that posed a threat to the safety and health of residents, families fearful in their own homes and neighborhoods, high unemployment and limited opportunities for jobs, and ineffective programs that were “too little, too late” to address distressed conditions and discouraged self-sufficiency. The Commission’s conclusion was that

[the] combination and pervasiveness of these factors — and more — have begun to cause almost unimaginable distress to a segment of this Nation’s most valuable resource, its people….Traditional approaches to revitalizing seriously distressed public housing have too often emphasized the physical condition of the developments without addressing the human condition of the residents.79

Two high school girls holding cameras on which they are learning how to edit a video.
Youth participating in the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative’s Digital Media Academy learned creative skills in computer programming, graphic design, and editing videos and music, and applied them in producing public service announcements about the impact of teen pregnancy on future dreams. Photo courtesy: DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative
The relationships between aspects of housing and neighborhoods and the well-being of children and families continue to steer housing policy. However, as the research described above indicates, these relationships are much more complex and multivariate than previously thought. The evidence increasingly highlights the constraints of focusing on singular aspects of housing and neighborhoods rather than taking a holistic approach that considers housing within its neighborhood and community context. The lessons of MTO and HOPE VI, in particular, underscore the importance of housing policy that extends beyond housing itself and emphasizes strengthening neighborhoods and communities with programs such as the Obama administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) and Promise Zones. This programmatic catalyst for changing struggling neighborhoods was prompted by population growth in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, where more than 40 percent of residents were poverty-stricken — from 10.3 million in 1990 to 11.5 million between 2006 and 2010.80

Although researchers are still exploring the different ways in which housing and neighborhood environments affect children’s well-being, the increased likelihood that living in poverty negatively influences cognitive, physical, and socioemotional development and curtails lifetime opportunities demands action.81 NRI, a holistic place-based initiative begun in 2010, is a comprehensive federal interagency effort to help local communities transform poverty-stricken neighborhoods into places of opportunity. Accomplishing such a transformation requires all stakeholders to align and coordinate their available resources to improve housing, education, public safety, health, and human services. Three federal programs — Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) program — form the core of the initiative; together, they had invested $365 million by the end of 2012.82

  • Choice Neighborhoods replaces distressed public or HUD-assisted housing with quality mixed-income housing developments, which are considered an essential driver of neighborhood transformation. These mixed-income developments address neighborhood barriers to opportunity such as vacant properties, a lack of amenities and services, and poorly performing schools. This strategy supports positive health, safety, employment, and education outcomes for families, with effective schools and education programs being of particular interest.83 Choice Neighborhoods strongly emphasizes early childhood education, K-12 school enrichment, and other child opportunity programs.

  • Promise Neighborhoods, a second core component of NRI initiated by the U.S. Department of Education, aims to improve educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth living in distressed neighborhoods. The program is designed after New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, which offers participants a cradle-to-career continuum of comprehensive support from partnering community-based organizations. Making this level of support possible entails deepening the capacity of local community organizations and schools, integrating programs and solutions available from different agencies, strengthening neighborhood infrastructure, and evaluating outcomes.84

  • A large group of community members gathered on a lawn to commemorate the opening of a nearby mixed-income housing development.
    The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in Columbus, Ohio is redeveloping Poindexter Village, a demolished public housing complex, into a mixed-income housing community near Ohio State University Hospital East. Photo courtesy: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    The U.S. Department of Justice’s BCJI program supports community-oriented, evidence-based strategies that address safety and crime in conjunction with revitalizing neighborhoods.85 This initiative targets crime hotspots and supports partnerships between law enforcement agencies and community organizations, integrating targeted enforcement with prevention, intervention, and neighborhood revitalization services.86 Two child-centered BCJI strategies illustrate how localities might use this resource: Seattle’s redevelopment of a children’s park that was once a haven for prostitution and drug dealing has made the park safe to play in once more, and San Francisco’s Tenderloin Safe Passage program, which has created a volunteer- and police-manned safety zone for neighborhood children who walk to school.87

These three programs also coordinate with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Health Centers program and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) program. Community health centers are a longstanding mechanism for delivering primary health care and behavioral health services to underserved and low-income individuals. The Affordable Care Act establishes a fund for operating, expanding, renovating, and building more community health centers in medically underserved areas to ensure access to health care for low-income, minority, rural, and other underserved populations, ensuring greater equity of health care despite geographic, cultural, and linguistic barriers.88 Health services available to children at these centers include prenatal care, vaccinations, primary care, and well-child checkups.89 CDFIs fund local community development services that include basic banking, financial literacy, and safe lending as well as affordable housing development and homeownership support for low-income borrowers.90 These entities have wide latitude in addressing local needs, including child-centered community development; for example, New Jersey Community Capital, a statewide CDFI, is a major lender for organizations building charter schools and child care facilities.91

Most recently, in January 2014 President Obama designated the first five Promise Zones, which are planned to total 20 by 2016. Local need is the focus of the Promise Zones program; participating communities receive priority access to federal resources that can be applied toward job creation, increased economic activity, improved educational opportunities, and the reduction of violent crime in high-poverty neighborhoods. The NRI-related tools discussed above are available to Promise Zones, allowing the program to target multiple objectives and conditions and addressing the complexity of the neighborhood effect. Goals to improve life chances for children are embedded in localities’ Promise Zone plans.92 The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, for example, prioritizes early literacy, parent support programs, and improved educational outcomes in the region’s school districts. As part of its Promise Neighborhoods initiative, the city of Los Angeles has partnered with the Youth Policy Institute and the city’s Unified School District to expand its Full Service Community Schools model from 7 schools to 45 schools, with the aim of ensuring that all youth can choose a high-quality education that prepares them for college and a career.93 In the Kentucky Highlands, all high school youth in the Promise Zone will be able to take part in evidence-based college and career readiness programs and will have greater access to technical education programs.94

These federal initiatives to coordinate and align programs to serve specific goals accomplish two things; they help communities combat the effects of poor-quality housing and poverty-ridden neighborhoods, particularly on the opportunity trajectories of children, and they demonstrate the lessons learned to date about the ways in which decent, affordable housing and neighborhoods open pathways to fulfilled lives and create healthier communities.

Implications for Policy

A diagram illustrating the continuity of services provided by the Promise Neighborhood program.
Sample Continuum of Promise Neighborhood Cradle-to-Career Services
There are immediate implications for housing policies that improve outcomes for families with children. Many housing researchers agree that low-income families should receive assistance in securing the resources necessary for acquiring decent housing or improving the quality of their homes, including subsidies for things like electricity, heating, and weatherization; although many such programs are already in place, they are not necessarily adequate to meet community needs. Coley encourages governments to follow through with existing programs such as lead abatement but also suggests that they consider new policies, such as regulating landlords with stricter requirements and enforcement standards, to be sure that problems such as exposed wiring and nonfunctioning refrigerators and heaters are addressed.95 Schwartz thinks it worthwhile to make vouchers more easily portable, or easier to use across different public housing agency jurisdictions, to enable low-income families Sample Continuum of Promise Neighborhood Cradle-to-Career Services 15 to move to low-poverty communities. Schwartz also notes that aside from vouchers many localities have housing policies such as inclusionary zoning that can inject small amounts of affordable housing into low-poverty areas, thereby providing families in high-poverty areas with access to better neighborhoods. Although these initiatives are generally small and localized, says Schwartz, they can have a significant impact on children and their education outcomes. As Schwartz explains, “[T]hinking of ways to create incentives for counties and cities to voluntarily adopt their own integrative housing programs like inclusionary zoning could be a good way to distribute affordable housing in an effective manner.96

As for neighborhoods, Galster observes, “There are aspects we know aren’t good for kids. We’re not exactly sure of the mechanisms of how these things work, but concentrations of multiply disadvantaged households and concentrations of crime and violence and concentrations of toxins and pollutants are not healthy places to raise kids. Community development policies that try to improve the physical quality of neighborhoods where disadvantaged people live are certainly to be commended. And policies that allow some low-income people who have an inclination to do so to move to better quality neighborhoods through vouchers or some other kind of affordable housing policy is the other side of that coin.97

Longer term implications for ensuring that children are able to flourish in healthy communities rest on continued research and application of lessons learned about the effect of physical and socio-environmental conditions on individuals and families. As researchers attempt to build, expand, and refine knowledge about how housing and neighborhoods shape child outcomes by challenging traditional assumptions and using fresh approaches to disentangle the complexities, policymakers can use this knowledge to focus broadly but comprehensively on making all housing and neighborhoods places of opportunity for low-income and minority children and their families.

Related Information:

The Challenge of Moving for Military Children

  1. Federal Healthy Homes Work Group. 2013. “Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action,” 8; Gary W. Evans. 2006. “Child Development and the Physical Environment,” Annual Review of Psychology 57:423–51. For conceptualizations of how housing and neighborhoods affect children, see: Nandinee K. Kutty. 2008. “Using the Making Connections Survey Data to Analyze Housing Mobility and Child Outcomes among Low-Income Families” and Sharon Vandivere, Elizabeth C. Hair, Christina Theokas, et al. 2006. “How Housing Affects Child Well-Being,” Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
  2. Many of these findings are not problem free due to nonexperimental study design, selection bias, unmeasured factors, weak statistical methods, and nonrepresentative samples that create problems for validity, reliability, and generalizability; see Tama Leventhal and Sandra Newman. 2010. “Housing and Child Development,” Children and Youth Services Review 32:9, 1165–74.
  3. Rebekah Levine Coley, Tama Leventhal, Alicia Doyle Lynch, and Melissa Kull. 2013. “Relations Between Housing Characteristics and the Well-Being of Low-Income Children and Adolescents,” Developmental Psychology 49:9, 1775–89.
  4. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2013. “Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: Report to Congress,” 3.
  5. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. 2013. “America’s Children,” 32, 82.
  6. C. Scott Holupka and Sandra J. Newman. 2011. “The housing and neighborhood conditions of America’s children: patterns and trends over four decades,” Housing Policy Debate 21:2, 215–45; Paul Emrath and Heather Taylor. 2012. “Housing Value, Costs, and Measures of Physical Adequacy,” Cityscape 14:1, 99–125.
  7. James Krieger and Donna L. Higgins. 2002. “Housing and Health: Time Again for Public Health Action,” American Journal of Public Health 92:5, 758–68.
  8. “About Lead-Based Paint,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website ( Accessed 22 April 2014.
  9. Evans 2006.
  10. “What do Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Children?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website ( Accessed 20 June 2014.
  11. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2011. “American Healthy Homes Survey: Lead and Arsenic Findings,” 4.
  12. “History of Lead-Based Paint Legislation,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website ( Accessed 20 June 2014; “Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website ( Accessed 20 June 2014.
  13. Peter Ashley. 2012. “HUD Working to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities Among our Children,” Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. Accessed 25 April 2014.
  14. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Healthy Homes Survey 2011.
  15. Federal Healthy Homes Work Group 2013; Evans 2006, 434.
  16. Ashley 2012.
  17. President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. 2012. “Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities.”
  18. “The Healthy Homes Program,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website ( Accessed 30 April 2014.
  19. Coley et al. 2013.
  20. Interview with Rebekah Levine Coley, 3 July 2014.
  21. Sandra J. Newman. 2008. “Does Housing Matter for Poor Families? A Critical Summary of Research and Issues Still to be Resolved,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 27:4, 895–925.
  22. Kevin S. Blake, Rebecca L. Kellerson, and Aleksandra Simic. 2007. “Measuring Overcrowding in Housing,” Econometrica and ICF International for HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research.
  23. Holupka and Newman 2011; The Annie E. Casey Foundation. 2014. “Children Living in Crowded Housing,” Kids Count Data Center. Difference in definitions prevent definitive comparison; the former defines crowding as more than two persons per bedroom and the latter defines it as more than one person per room.
  24. Newman 2008.
  25. Evans 2006.
  26. Leventhal and Newman 2010; Evans 2006.
  27. Claudia D. Solari and Robert D. Mare. 2012. “Housing crowding effects on children’s wellbeing,” Social Science Research 41, 464–76.
  28. Dominique Goux and Eric Maurin. 2005. “The effect of overcrowded housing on children’s performance at school,” Journal of Public Economics 89:5–6, 797–819.
  29. Holupka and Newman 2011.
  30. The Annie E. Casey Foundation 2014.
  31. Robert Hickey, Jeffrey Lubell, Peter Haas, and Stephanie Morse. 2012. “Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation,” Center for Housing Policy and Center for Neighborhood Technology.
  32. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2013, 6.
  33. Rebecca Cohen and Keith Wardrip. 2011. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Center for Housing Policy and MacArthur Foundation.
  34. Leventhal and Newman 2010.
  35. Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. 2013. “The State of the Nation’s Housing,” 31.
  36. Leventhal and Newman 2010.
  37. Interview with Sandra J. Newman, 9 July 2014.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Interview with Rebekah Levine Coley.
  40. Joseph Harkness and Sandra Newman. 2005. “Housing Affordability and Children’s Well-Being: Evidence from the National Survey of America’s Families,” Housing Policy Debate 16:2, 213–55.
  41. Joseph Harkness, C. Scott Holupka, and Sandra Newman. 2009. “Geographic differences in housing prices and the well-being of children and parents,” Journal of Urban Affairs 31:2, 123–46.
  42. Sandra J. Newman and C. Scott Holupka. 2014. “Housing Affordability and Child Well-Being,” Housing Policy Debate (online 10 June). Such a small portion of the large sample lived in high-priced housing that a hypothesized connection between benefits accrued to children and a more expensive housing market could not be ascertained.
  43. Sandra J. Newman and C. Scott Holupka. 2014. “Housing affordability and investments in children,” Journal of Housing Economics 24, 89–100.
  44. Interview with Sandra Newman.
  45. Leventhal and Newman 2010; Scott Holupka and Sandra J. Newman. 2012. “The Effects of Homeownership on Children’s Outcomes: Real Effects or Self-Selection?” Real Estate Economics 40:3, 566–602.
  46. David R. Barker. 2013. “The Evidence Does Not Show That Homeownership Benefits Children,” Cityscape 15:2, 231–4; Donald Haurin. 2013. “The Relationship of Homeownership, House Prices, and Child Well-Being,” Cityscape 15:2, 227–9.
  47. Holupka and Newman 2012.
  48. Rebekah Levine Coley, Tama Leventhal, Alicia Doyle Lynch, and Melissa Kull. 2013. “Relations Between Housing Characteristics and the Well-Being of Low-Income Children and Adolescents,” Developmental Psychology 49:9, 1775–89.
  49. Brett Theodus, Claudia Coulton, and Amos Budde. 2014. “Getting to Better Performing Schools: The Role of Residential Mobility in School Attainment in Low-Income Neighborhoods,” Cityscape 16:1, 61–84.
  50. Newman 2008.
  51. National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2012. “Who Lives in Federally Assisted Housing? Characteristics of Households Assisted by HUD programs,” Housing Spotlight 2:2, 1–5.
  52. Yumiko Aratani, Michelle Chau, Vanessa R. Wight, and Sophia Addy. 2011. “Rent Burden, Housing Subsidies and the Well-being of Children and Youth,” National Center for Children in Poverty.
  53. Ingrid Gould Ellen, Amy Schwartz, and Keren Mertens Horn. 2014. “Housing Assistance Programs Provide Limited Access to Higher-Performing Schools,” MacArthur Foundation policy research brief; Heather Schwartz. 2010. “Housing Policy Is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County, Maryland,” Century Foundation.
  54. Ingrid Gould Ellen and Keren Mertens Horn. 2012. “Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?” Poverty and Race Research Action Council. 
  55. Rebecca Cohen. 2011. “The Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health: A Research Summary,” Insights (May), Center for Housing Policy; Aratani et al. 2011; Newman 2008; Janet Currie and Aaron Yelowitz. 2000. “Are public housing projects good for kids?” Journal of Public Economics 75, 99–124; Sandra J. Newman and Joseph M. Harkness. 2002. “The Long-Term Effects of Public Housing on Self-Sufficiency,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 21:1, 21–43
  56. Douglas S. Massey, Len Albright, Rebecca Casciano, Elizabeth Derickson, and David N. Kinsey. 2013. Climbing Mount Laurel: The Struggle for Affordable Housing and Social Mobility in an American Suburb, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  57. Will Fischer. 2014. “Research Shows Housing Vouchers Reduce Hardship and Provide Platform for Long-Term Gains Among Children,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  58. Coley et al. 2013.
  59. “Moving to Opportunity (MTO) For Fair Housing Demonstration Program,” National Bureau of Economic Research website ( Accessed 15 April 2014; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2011. “Moving to Opportunity For Fair Housing Demonstration Program: Final Impacts Evaluation.” The MTO demonstration compared three groups of households in assisted housing: an experimental group that received vouchers and relocation counseling to move to census tracts with poverty rates below 10 percent, a group that received housing choice vouchers that they could use anywhere, and a control group that received no vouchers and remained eligible for project-based assistance.
  60. Cohen and Wardrip 2011.
  61. David T. Burkham, Valerie E. Lee, and Julie Dwyer. 2009. “School Mobility in the Early Elementary Grades: Frequency and Impact From Nationally-Representative Data,” prepared for the Workshop on the Impact of Mobility and Change on the Lives of Young Children, Schools, and Neighborhoods, 29–30 June.
  62. G. Thomas Kingsley, Audrey Jordan, and William Traynor. 2012. “Addressing Residential Instability: Options for Cities and Community Initiatives,” Cityscape 14:3, 161–84.
  63. Leventhal and Newman 2010; Coley et al. 2013.
  64. Ronald C. Kessler, Greg J. Duncan, and Lisa A. Gennetian et al. 2014. “Associations of Housing Mobility Interventions for Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods With Subsequent Mental Disorders During Adolescence,” JAMA 311:9, 937–47.
  65. Stefanie DeLuca, Greg J. Duncan, Micere Keels, and Ruby M. Mendenhall. 2010. “Gautreux mothers and their children: an update,” Housing Policy Debate 20:1, 7–25; James E. Rosenbaum and Anita Zuberi. 2010. “Comparing residential mobility programs: design elements, neighborhood placements, and outcomes in MTO and Gautreaux,” Housing Policy Debate 20:1, 27–41; Jennifer Darrah and Stefanie DeLuca. 2014. “Living Here Has Changed my Whole Perspective: How Escaping Inner-City Poverty Shapes Neighborhood and Housing Choice,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 33:2, 350–84; Massey et al. 2013.
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  67. Schwartz 2010.
  68. Interview with Heather Schwartz, 2 July 2014.
  69. Jens Ludwig, Greg Duncan, Lisa Gennetian, Lawrence Katz, Ronald Kessler, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. 2014. “Moving to More Affluent Neighborhoods Improves Health and Happiness Over the Long Term among the Poor,” MacArthur Foundation policy research brief.
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  72. Interview with Heather Schwartz.
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  74. Rebekah Levine Coley, Melissa Kull, Tama Leventhal, and Alicia Doyle Lynch. 2014. “Profiles of Housing and Neighborhood Contexts Among Low-Income Families: Links With Children’s Well-Being,” Cityscape 16:1, 37–60.
  75. George C. Galster. 2012. “The Mechanism(s) of Neighbourhood Effects: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications,” in Maarten van Ham, David Manley, Nick Bailey, Ludi Simpson, and Duncan Maclennan, eds., Neighbourhood Effects Research: New Perspectives, New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 23–56; George C. Galster. 2010. “The Mechanism(s) of Neighborhood Effects: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications,” paper presented at ESRC Seminar, St. Andrews University, revised 23 February; George C. Galster. 2014. “How Neighborhoods Affect Health, Well-being, and Young People’s Futures,” MacArthur Foundation policy research brief.
  76. Interview with George Galster, 7 July 2014.
  77. Cunningham and McDonald 2012.
  78. Anne B. Shlay. 1995. “Housing in the Broader Context in the United States,” Housing Policy Debate 6:3, 695–720.
  79. National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing. 1992. “A Report to the Congress and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.” Author italicized for emphasis.
  80. The White House. 2012. Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative slideshow presented at UNCA Neighborhood Revitalization Conference, August 2.
  81. See Gary W. Evans and Pilyoung Kim. 2013. “Childhood Poverty, Chronic Stress, Self-Regulation, and Coping,” Child Development Perspectives 7:1, 43-8; Caroline Ratcliffe and Signe-Mary McKernan. 2012. “Child Poverty and Its Lasting Consequence,” The Urban Institute; Colter Mitchell, John Hobcraft, and Sara S. McLanahan et al. 2014. “Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children’s telomere length,” PNAS 111:16, 1-6.
  82. The White House 2012.
  83. “Choice Neighborhoods,” “Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants,” and “Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grantee Grants,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website ( Accessed 20 June 2014; Shaun Donovan. 2014. Remarks at “The Future of Housing After the Crisis” Conference, Tacoma, WA, 22 January; Robin Smith, G. Thomas Kingsley, Mary Cunningham, and Susan Popkin et al. 2010. “Monitoring Success in Choice Neighborhoods: A Proposed Approach to Performance Measurement,” WhatWorks Collaborative.
  84. Infrastructure refers to neighborhood assets: educational, developmental, commercial, recreational, physical, and social.
  85. The White House. n.d. “White House Neighborhood Revitalization Report;” Elizabeth Griffith. 2014. “Translating Research to Practice and Building Capacity to Use Data, Research, Planning, and Problem-Solving,” Translational Criminology (Spring), 9–11; “Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs website ( Accessed 5 June 2014.
  86. The White House; “Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation,” Local Initiatives Support Coalition website ( Accessed 5 June 2014.
  87. “Community Safety Initiative: 2012 Award Winners,” Local Initiatives Support Corporation website ( Accessed 26 June 2014.
  88. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, n.d. “The Affordable Care Act and Health Centers;” The White House.
  89. “About Health Centers,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration website ( Accessed 26 June 2014.
  90. The White House. 2011. “Building Neighborhoods of Opportunity,” 27.
  91. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. 2008. “New Jersey CDFI Focuses on Child Care Facilities and Charter Schools,” Cascade 67 (Winter).
  92. Tracey Ross and Erik Stegman. 2014. “A Renewed Promise: How Promise Zones Can Help Reshape the Federal Place-Based Agenda,” Center for American Progress; The White House. 2014. “Fact Sheet: President Obama’s Promise Zones Initiative,” press release 8 January.
  93. “Full Service Community Schools Program,” U.S. Department of Education website ( Accessed 26 June 2014.
  94. “Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood,” Youth Policy Institute website ( Accessed 26 June 2014; The White House 2014.
  95. Interview with Rebekah Levine Coley.
  96. Interview with Heather Schwartz.
  97. Interview with George Galster.


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