Chetty Study Offers Guide to Move Families to High-Upward-Mobility Areas

Opportunity Insights–a Harvard-based group of researchers and policy analysts, including economist Raj Chetty, who analyze data to help stakeholders make more informed policy decisions–has published a paper titled “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Barriers to Neighborhood Choice.” The researchers, working in cooperation with the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, found that when families received the Creating Moves to Opportunity treatment (the treatment consisted of customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance), the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas increased by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group.

Findings

The researchers found several insights during the course of their work. First, they found that in the Seattle area, Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) interventions increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group. The researchers also found that utilization rates among groups remained the same (i.e., those families that chose to move to high-upward-mobility areas were able to use their vouchers at the same rate as the control group); all families across racial and ethnic groups benefited from the treatment; and families in opportunity areas were more satisfied with their new neighborhoods. The researchers also found that the customized manner of providing services according to each family’s need was crucial. Finally, the researchers found that other policy interventions such as higher payment standards (e.g., Small Area Fair Market Rents [SAFMR]) by themselves or providing additional rental information in a standardized manner were not effective. Indeed, on page 38 of the study, the researchers write “[o]ur analysis . . . shows that raising payment standards in more expensive neighborhoods —  as is typically done in SAFMR policies — does not necessarily induce families to move to higher-opportunity areas.”

Services Offered

The CMTO services consisted of three prongs (see pages 12 and 13 of the study):

  1. Search Assistance (page 12);
    1. Information about high-opportunity areas and the benefits of moving to such areas for families with young children;
    2. Help in making rental applications more competitive by preparing rental documents and addressing issues in credit and rental history; and
    3. Search assistance to help families identify available units, connect with landlords in opportunity areas, and complete the application process;
  2. Increased Landlord Engagement (page 13);
    1. Explaining to landlords in high-opportunity areas the program and encouraging them to lease their units;
    2. Damage mitigation fund to cover possible damages to a unit not included in the security deposit (up to $2,000);
    3. Expedited lease-up process for landlords through fast inspections and streamlined paperwork;
  3. Short-term Financial Assistance (page 13);
    1. Funds for application screening fees, security deposits, and other expenses that stood in the way of lease-up;
    2. Payments were customized by staff to address the specific impediments a family faced; and
    3. On average families received $1,070 for these payments.

The researchers stressed that these services were tailored to meet the needs of individual families.

Defining Opportunity Areas

Opportunity areas were defined using Census tracts that have upward mobility in approximately the top third of the distribution across tracts within Seattle and King County. The definitions were adjusted to provide for contiguous areas and to take into account changes in neighborhoods. They were defined using data from the Opportunity Atlas.

Slides on the study can be found here.

A non-technical summary can be found here.

The full study can be found here.

 

Two Complimentary Moving To Work Application Webinars

NAHRO is excited to host two webinars on the Moving To Work (MTW) expansion – April 23, and May 6. Both sessions are complimentary to attendees and additional information along with registration links are below.

Webinar 1

Moving To Work Application Process for Small PHAs

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

1:30pm to 2:30pm eastern time

HUD has announced and extended the application process for the first cohort of MTW expansion which will include 30 smaller PHAs (less than 1,000 combined public housing and HCV units.) and the letter of interest deadline is coming up quickly.

This webinar will provide small PHAs details on the application process and the HUD required information. The NAHRO Policy Team will walk attendees through the application timeline and the commitments that PHA must make.

Bring your questions and comments and prepare your PHA for the MTW possibilities!

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1806478211309396237

Webinar 2

Becoming MTW: A Webinar for Small Public Housing Authorities

Monday, May 6, 2019

1:30pm to 3:00pm eastern time

The MTW Steering Committee, which works on behalf of the current 39 Moving to Work (MTW) agencies, and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) will be hosting a webinar on MTW specifically for smaller size public housing authorities who are interested in the program. In 2015, Congress authorized the expansion of MTW to include an additional 100 agencies and HUD is currently preparing to select the first cohort of new agencies into the program, which will be comprised entirely of small PHAs. Small PHAs will also be eligible to apply for MTW in future application rounds.

During the webinar you will have the opportunity to engage with and learn from current smaller-sized MTW agencies with many years of valuable experience operating under MTW. These agencies are widely recognized as experts and innovators in their local communities and at the national level. Our panelists will focus on the advantages and benefits of MTW, potential challenges, the application process, and other important topics.

If you are a small PHA who has already applied or is considering applying to the MTW program in the future, we highly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the program.

Panelists:

Chris Lamberty, Executive Director, Lincoln Housing Authority (invited)

Josh Meehan, Executive Director, Keene Housing Authority

Vivian Bryant, Executive Director, Orlando Housing Authority

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8177264086922641421?source=NAHRO

HUD to Host MTW Cohort #1 Webinar Tomorrow (March 28th) at 3pm ET

As previously mentioned on this blog, HUD will host a webinar on the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion, Cohort #1 tomorrow at 3 pm ET. Listed below is additional information on the webinar that I received from a HUD official.

MTW Cohort 1

The Department has extended the application timeline for agencies to apply to the  Cohort #1 of Moving to Work Demonstration Program. Through this extension notice the Department will select thirty agencies to study MTW flexibility.

Cohort #1 will consist of high-performing agencies that administer 1,000 or fewer HCVs and public housing units combined. The deadline to submit the letter of interest package for Cohort #1 is May 13, 2019.

On Thursday, March 28th the MTW Office will host a webinar on Cohort #1. There is no registration required to join the webinar and the call-in information is below.

 

Step 1: Dial into the conference.

Dial-in: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633

Access Code: 0604767##

Need an international dial-in number?

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.

Entry Link: http://ems8.intellor.com/login/813201

HUD Updates Shutdown Reserve Guidance for MTW Agencies

Earlier today, a HUD official sent an email to Executive Directors at MTW agencies providing additional guidance on when it is appropriate for MTW agencies to access HUD-held reserves. The guidance is reproduced below.

Dear Executive Director,

The letter sent to your PHA dated January 15th regarding access to the HHR and setting out criteria for requesting HHR applies to MTW and non-MTW PHAs.  During a lapse in appropriations, HUD staff is only permitted to work on certain activities, including activities that address threats to human lives and properties.  As an MTW PHA, if you believe you need access to the HHR to address immediate threats to the health and safety of tenants or the preservation of property beyond those in the January 15th letter, please submit the amount, a justification for the amount, the intended programmatic use (e.g., public housing, low-income housing), and the timing of expenditure to Robert Boepple at robert.h.boepple@hud.gov.

HUD Funds Available for February, But Not for March

NAHRO has learned that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has enough money to ensure that February payments for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and the public housing Operating Fund will be made available to public housing authorities (PHAs). HUD intends to make those payments on time. NAHRO has also learned that there is not currently enough money to make HCV and Operating Fund payments for March, if the government shutdown continues until then.

In order to end the government shutdown, Congress must agree to a funding bill. Now is the time to reach out to your Congresspeople and demand that a fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for HUD is passed. NAHRO has prepared a letter that can be sent to your Congressional members through the NAHRO Advocacy Action Center.

As PHAs make their voices heard to Congress, NAHRO will continue to fight for you and the families you serve and will continue to inform members as soon as we learn more.

One More Week!! – MTW Expansion Letters of Interest Due Jan. 11

PHAs interested in applying to the first cohort of the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion must submit their letter of interest to HUD by January 11. Due to the current government shutdown, HUD will not respond to your submitted letter of interest until the government reopens. Regardless, NAHRO recommends that all PHAs interested in applying to the first cohort submit their letters to HUD on or before the January 11 deadline. The HUD notice describing the requirements for letters of interest is here, and letters of interest should be sent to mtw-info@hud.gov. In October 2018, HUD released a notice describing the requirements needed for letters of interest.

PHAs with 1,000 or fewer aggregate units (including special purpose vouchers) are eligible to apply to the first cohort of the MTW Expansion, which will examine the overall impact of MTW flexibility. Before applying, PHAs must complete a baseline research survey that identifies the characteristics of all applicants. After submitting the baseline research survey, PHAs must complete a letter of interest stating a desire to obtain MTW designation, which cannot be longer than two pages and must be signed by the Executive Director. The PHA’s Board of Commissioners must also pass a resolution stating a desire to obtain MTW designation under the first cohort. Lastly, the PHA must also complete a certification of commitment (Attachment I – last few pages).

After the application deadline passes, HUD will divide eligible applicant PHAs into groups based on their geography and then randomly assign each PHA within a geographic area to one of three groups: a treatment group (which will be invited to continue to step 2 to apply); a waitlist group (which may be invited to apply, if a treatment group PHA withdraws); or a control group (which will not receive MTW status, but is expected to participate in the first cohort evaluation). PHAs in the waitlist group will be moved to the control group once the treatment group has 30 PHAs which successfully apply.

NAHRO will continue to monitor the MTW application process and any effects of the government shutdown. We will provide updates as we learn them.

The MTW Operations Notice can be found here.

The first cohort application notice can be found here.

HUD Broadcasts Webinar on MTW Cohort #1

Earlier today, HUD broadcast a webinar on the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion Cohort #1. The webinar explained what MTW was, explained the benefits of an MTW designation, provided presentations from current MTW agencies, and discussed the process by which agencies could apply for Cohort #1. Additionally, questions from webinar participants were answered.

The webinar also gave the following timeline for MTW Expansion activities:

  • Spring 2019 – Revise MTW Operations Notice based on public comment and publish final MTW Operations Notice;
  • Summer / Fall 2019 – Designate the initial cohort of MTW agencies; invite the second cohort of agencies to apply;
  • Winter 2020 – Designate the second cohort of MTW agencies.

The full webinar with audio and the slide presentation will eventually be posted on HUD’s MTW Expansion site, but an unofficial copy of the slides from the webinar can immediately be found here.

HUD Now Accepting Applications for MTW Expansion Cohort #1

Late last week, HUD published a notice–titled “Request for Letters of Interest and Applications under the Moving to Work Demonstration Program for Fiscal Year 2019: COHORT #1 – Overall Impact of Moving to Work Flexibility” (PIH-2018-17)–inviting applications for the first cohort of the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion. The first cohort of the MTW Expansion will include 30 PHAs with 1,000 or fewer aggregate units (including special purpose vouchers).

In addition to laying out the application process for the first cohort of the MTW Expansion plan, the notice also notes the research topic each cohort will examine. The first cohort will examine the overall impact of MTW flexibility, while future cohorts will examine rent reform, work requirements, and landlord incentives. Applying for MTW status with the first cohort is a two-step process including submitting a letter of interest (due January 11, 2019) and submitting a MTW plan and application.

NAHRO will host a MTW application e-briefing for potential first cohort applicants on Wednesday, November 7th from 1:30 to 3 pm ET. Registration for the e-briefing can be found here.

The MTW Operations Notice can be found here.

The first cohort application notice can be found here.

Click below for additional information on the application process.

Continue reading

HUD Awards Public Housing Capital Funds

Today HUD awarded the FY 2018 Public Housing Capital Fund grants to housing authorities in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The grants total more than $2.6 billion.

A list of the individual housing authority grants is available here.

An excerpt from the HUD press release states, “The grants announced today are provided through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which offers annual funding to approximately 3,100 public housing authorities to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing in their communities. These housing authorities use the funding to complete large-scale improvements such as replacing roofs or making energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.”

HUD Sends FSS Program Coordinator Funding Letter

Earlier today, HUD sent a Fiscal Year 2018 Family Self-Sufficiency Program Coordinator Funding Letter to PHA Executive Directors. The letter is meant to help “prepare for the upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Family Self Sufficiency Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) competition.” The letter discusses Public and Indian Housing Information Center (PIC) data; the possible use of composite scores in funding determinations; and checking the System for Award Management (SAM) and DUNS status.

Click below to learn more.

Continue reading