On July 15, 2020, HUD published in the Federal Register a Notice implementing the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Mobility Demonstration Program. This program was authorized by the 2019 and 2020 Appropriations Acts.
The 2019 Appropriations Act, signed into law on February 15, 2019, made available $25 million to carry out an HCV mobility demonstration. The 2020 Appropriations Act, signed into law on December 20, 2019, made an additional $25 million available to the demonstration.
Incremental voucher assistance for the HCV Mobility Demonstration Vouchers (MDVs) and mobility-related services made available under the notice may only be provided to families with children. The vouchers are designed to encourage such families to move to lower-poverty areas in order to expand their access to opportunity areas.
The demonstration is effective until October 1, 2028.
Recent research shows that growing up in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty improves the academic achievement of children and their long-term chance of success. It also reduces intergenerational poverty.
The HCV program offers families with vouchers the opportunity to live in a neighborhood of their choice, including low-poverty, opportunity neighborhoods. Despite this, families with HCVs often encounter barriers to using their vouchers in communities with expanded opportunities. Some barriers are financial, such not having enough money for a security deposit or maintaining a positive credit score. Other barriers may include inadequate time to find a unit, landlord unwillingness to participate in the program, or limited awareness of neighborhood amenities, such as the location of high-performing schools.
Some PHAs and non-profits have implemented “housing mobility programs” to help reduce barriers for families with vouchers to live in neighborhoods of their choice. These programs often include “mobility-related services” such as pre- and post-move supports, family financial assistance (e.g., security deposits), landlord outreach, and housing search assistance.
Building on recent research, and evidence from prior and existing housing mobility programs, the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority partnered with researchers from Opportunity Insights, to implement and evaluate a housing mobility program they named “Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO).”
Based on the initial report provided by the researchers, the provision of mobility-related services appear to have helped create strong gains in the number of families who moved to opportunity areas.
Through the demonstration, HUD will implement, test, and evaluate whether housing mobility programs designed to increase family choice, actually expand access to opportunity neighborhoods.
This demonstration will allow participating PHAs throughout the country to implement housing mobility programs by offering mobility-related services to increase the number of voucher families with children living in opportunity areas. Again – only families with children may participate in the demonstration.
To be eligible for the demonstration, PHAs must meet eligibility criteria, described in Section V of the notice. The demonstration includes four statutory categories of eligibility:
- Category A: PHA Partnerships;
- Category B: Consortia with High-Performing Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program;
- Category C: Consortia with Small PHA; and
- Category D: Single Agency
HUD anticipates that most applications for the demonstration will come from multiple PHAs within a region submitting one application jointly.
The demonstration is expected to be implemented by PHAs over the course of six years.
Using publicly available data on costs for mobility-related services, HUD estimates that there is enough available mobility-related service funding to provide services to at least 9,500 families. Preliminary calculations indicate that a minimal sample size of 1,950 families with children at each PHA site, across both treatment groups and the control group, is necessary to detect the impact of the treatments.
To meet the minimum enrollment requirements, PHAs will primarily recruit and enroll existing voucher holders to participate in the demonstration.
HUD expects to make approximately 5 – 10 awards for MDVs and mobility-related services together. HUD expects the minimum award amount, including both MDVs and mobility-related services funding, likely to be no less than $4 million and the maximum award likely to be no more than $10 million.
HUD expects to announce the awards under this demonstration in December 2020, so interested PHAs need to move quickly. Only PHAs that already administer HCVs are eligible to apply.
PHAs seeking additional information on this demonstration should contact Rebecca Primeaux, Director of the Housing Voucher Management & Operations Division at HUD. Her phone number is 202-708-1112 and her mailing address is Department of Housing & Urban Development, Seventh Street SW, Room 4214, Washington, DC 20410.