What Housing Vouchers Mean to Poor Minority Families, Part 2: Help in Avoiding Extreme-Poverty Neighborhoods

October 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I explained earlier today that housing vouchers make a big difference for minority families’ ability to live in a low-poverty neighborhood.  They also help poor black and Hispanic families with children avoid neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

Researchers generally agree that living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, in which 40 percent or more of the inhabitants are poor, is particularly harmful to children.  Nationwide, nearly 15 percent of poor children live in such neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods are more likely than others to have high rates of crime and violence, poorly performing schools, few college-educated adults, low employment rates, and limited opportunities for physical recreation.

Extreme-poverty neighborhoods are predominantly African American and Latino.  Poor black and Hispanic children are more than five times as likely to live in a neighborhood where 40 percent or more of the residents are poor than poor non-Hispanic white children.  Living in an extremely poor neighborhood may be particularly harmful for children when families live in such neighborhoods for several generations, as occurs more among African American families.

But housing vouchers improve these statistics substantially for poor black and Hispanic families with children.  For these families, vouchers cut their likelihood of living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods by nearly half for black children and more than a third for Hispanic children, compared with poor children of the same race or ethnicity (see chart).

These are encouraging statistics, but the Housing Choice Voucher program can do more to deliver on its potential to help families avoid living in neighborhoods likely to hurt their children’s economic prospects and future health, as we detail in our recent paper.  We’ll look at these recommendations in greater detail in a future post.

What Housing Vouchers Mean to Minority Families, Part 1: They’re Better Able to Live in Low-Poverty Neighborhoods

October 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program falls short of its potential to expand children’s access to good schools in safe neighborhoods, as I’ve explained.  Although a voucher makes little difference in a poor white family’s ability to live in a low-poverty neighborhood, it makes a large difference for minority families.

Among poor families, more than twice the share of black children — and close to double the share of Hispanic children — using housing vouchers lived in low-poverty neighborhoods (those with less than 10 percent poverty) in 2010, compared with poor black and Hispanic children generally (see chart). … Read more

Why Money Doesn’t Walk

October 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

We’ve shown that interstate differences in tax levels have little effect on whether and where people move, contrary to claims by some tax-cut proponents.  The related claim — that people who leave a state take their incomes with them, harming that state’s economy — isn’t true either, our new paper explains.

The vast majority of people can’t take their income with them to a new state because they work for someone else.  When people leave a state, they usually also leave their job. … Read more

In Case You Missed It…

October 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on new Census data on poverty and the safety net, housing, state budgets and taxes, food assistance, health policy, and the economy.

  • On the new Census data, Danilo Trisi previewed the statistics and, after their release, explained that safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2013.  Brynne Keith-Jennings reported that SNAP (formerly food stamps) kept 4.8 million people, including 2.1 million children, out of poverty.  Will Fischer noted that rental assistance kept over 3 million people out of poverty.  
Read more

Housing Vouchers Help Families Live in Better Neighborhoods — But They Can Do More

October 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Policymakers over the last several decades have tried to improve low-income families’ access to low-poverty, higher-opportunity neighborhoods.  With this goal in mind, they’ve relied increasingly on housing vouchers so that families can choose where to live rather than be limited to government-funded projects that often are in very poor, segregated neighborhoods.  Despite these efforts, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program falls short of its potential to expand children’s access to good schools in safe neighborhoods, as we explain in our new paper.… Read more

New Poverty Figures Show Impact of Working-Family Tax Credits

October 17, 2014 at 2:05 pm
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) together lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013 and made 22.2 million others less poor, our analysis of Census data released yesterday show.Read more

Why We Should Give Wages Room to Grow

October 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

My latest post for U.S. News’ Economic Intelligence blog shows that American workers have been shortchanged in the recovery from the Great Recession and explains why the projected quickening of wage growth over the next few years won’t trigger an upward spiral of wages and prices.  It says in part:

How can wage increases go from 2 percent per year to 3.5 percent [as the Congressional Budget Office projects will occur over the next three years] without igniting unacceptable inflation?  The answer lies in the arithmetic of prices, productivity and labor costs.

Read more

Indiana Should Revise Medicaid Waiver Proposal

October 17, 2014 at 11:01 am

Indiana has proposed to expand Medicaid and extend health coverage to as many as 374,000 uninsured Hoosiers through the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0.  As currently designed, however, the proposal would create barriers to coverage for low-income individuals and cause substantial numbers of people to remain uninsured, as we explain in a new paper.  The state should modify its proposal to ensure that all newly eligible adults are actually able to participate and receive necessary health care services on a timely basis.… Read more

Lasting School Cuts Endanger Critical Reforms

October 17, 2014 at 10:27 am

States have imposed large cuts in general education spending — as our new report details and I explained yesterday — with serious consequences for students, schools, and the economy.  Deep state funding cuts have led to job losses, slowing the economy’s recovery from the recession.  Such cuts also have counteracted and sometimes undermined important state education reform initiatives.

School districts began cutting teachers and other employees in mid-2008, when the first round of budget cuts began taking effect.  By 2012, local school districts had cut about 330,000 jobs.… Read more

Rental Assistance Kept Over 3 Million People Out of Poverty Last Year, New Census Data Show

October 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Rental assistance programs kept millions of people above the poverty line in 2013, according to CBPP’s analysis of new Census data.  The findings highlight the central role that rental assistance plays in helping low-income Americans keep a roof over their heads.

Our analysis using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for non-cash benefits and taxes as well as cash income, shows that rental assistance kept 3.1 million people, including 1.0 million children, out of poverty last year (see chart).  … Read more

One Way to Help Poor Kids Do Better in School: Help Their Families Move to Better Neighborhoods

October 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Housing location makes a difference in low-income children’s short- and long-term success, as we detail in our new paper.  There’s growing evidence that violent, stressful, high-poverty neighborhoods can compromise children’s cognitive development, school performance, and health — and that low-poverty neighborhoods with high-quality schools improve low-income children’s school performance.

Many studies show strong links between neighborhood (and school) poverty and poor student academic performance.  A study led by Harvard University’s Robert Sampson showed, for example, that the verbal skills of children growing up in severely disadvantaged neighborhoods were lower — by an amount equivalent to one to two years of schooling —than those of children in better neighborhoods. … Read more

SNAP Kept Nearly 5 Million People out of Poverty Last Year, New Figures Show

October 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm

SNAP (formerly food stamps) kept 4.8 million people above the poverty line in 2013, including 2.1 million children, our analysis of Census data released today shows (see graph).  The figures are based on Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure, which — unlike the official poverty measure — includes non-cash benefits (like SNAP) and taxes as well as cash income.

By providing low-income families with resources to buy food, SNAP not only reduces “food insecurity” (difficulty affording adequate food) but also frees up room in their very tight budgets to cover other necessities, such as rent and clothing.… Read more