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Encouraging Residential Moves to Opportunity Neighborhoods: An Experiment Testing Incentives Offered to Housing Voucher Recipients


Authors: Schwartz, Heather L.     Mihaly, Kata     Gala, Breann    

Report Acceptance Date: March 2016 (71 pages)

Posted Date: February 16, 2017

This study tests whether mobility counseling and cash incentives will affect a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipient’s move to an opportunity area. Opportunity areas are defined as tracks rated 6-10 on a HUD-created index—factoring in poverty, housing stability, job and transit access, school quality, and employment. This move from a non-opportunity neighborhood (ranked 1-5) to an opportunity neighborhood (ranked 6-10) is considered an “opportunity move.” When a HCV recipient requests to move to a new housing unit, they must work with their Public Housing Authority (PHA). Briefings provided by PHAs are part of this process. For this study, 2,005 voucher holders who requested to move were randomly selected to receive one of three interventions to test any effect on moves to opportunity areas:

  1. A “business-as-usual” briefing covering basic information about moving with a voucher.
  2. A “business-as-usual” briefing and the promise of a $500 grant if voucher holders used their voucher in an opportunity area.
  3. A mobility counseling briefing and an offer of a $500 grant if voucher holders used their voucher in an opportunity area.


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