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On November 27, 2023, HUD announced $25 million in Housing Mobility Related Services awards to seven Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). The money is intended to expand housing choices for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families with children by increasing access to opportunity neighborhoods with high-performing schools, access to jobs, low crime rates, parks, and other amenities. HUD Secretary Marsha Fudge said of the awards, “Every parent knows the value of providing a safe and secure place for their child to call home. Stability at home helps promote their future success – in school and onwards. As HUD works to expand affordable housing and ensure economic mobility is possible for all families, these Housing Mobility Related Services awards will boost access to housing vouchers for families who need them the most.”

The purpose of the funding

The funds for housing mobility related services, as outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), will enable additional PHAs to administer housing mobility programs, HUD says. This, in turn, will raise the number of HCV families with children living in neighborhoods characterized by low poverty levels.

PHAs involved

  • Housing Authority of the City of Dallas, Texas: $5 million
  • Boston Housing Authority: $5 million
  • Houston Housing Authority: $5 million
  • Connecticut Department of Housing: $4.5 million
  • Housing Authority of the Birmingham District: $2.12 million
  • Seattle Housing Authority: $1.1 million
  • Milwaukee County DHHS – Housing Division: $1.8 million

“The impact of these funds is tangible – families can more easily move to neighborhoods of their choice and near more opportunity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, Richard J. Monocchio, in a HUD press release. “Providing families additional support with their housing search can ultimately lead to better long-term outcomes in employment and education.”

Rationale and anticipated impact

HUD says this award program is based on its Community Choice Demonstration program, which builds upon recent research showing that growing up in neighborhoods with lower poverty levels improves children’s academic achievement and long-term chances of success and reduces intergenerational poverty. Children who move to low-poverty neighborhoods have also been shown to experience lower rates of hospitalizations, lower hospital spending, and some changes in mental health over the long-term follow-up. Adults given the chance to move to low-poverty neighborhoods experience reductions in obesity and diabetes.

While the HCV program currently offers families with vouchers the opportunity to live in a neighborhood of their choice (including low-poverty, opportunity neighborhoods), families with HCVs may continue to encounter barriers to using their vouchers in communities with expanded opportunities. Common barriers include the inability to save enough money for a security deposit, inadequate time to find a unit, landlord unwillingness to rent to voucher holders, or limited awareness of neighborhood amenities, such as the location of high-performing schools.

The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Services Program will support PHAs in addressing barriers to accessing housing choices by offering mobility related services to increase the number of voucher families with children living in opportunity areas. In addition to offering mobility-related services, PHAs will work together in their regions to adopt administrative policies that further enable housing mobility, increase landlord participation, and reduce barriers for families to move across PHA jurisdictions through portability.

Joe Miksch is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for US Housing Consultants.