Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty

Paperback | April 7, 2010

byXavier de Souza Briggs, Susan J. Popkin, John Goering

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If "bad" neighborhoods are truly bad for children and families, especially the minority poor, can moving to better neighborhoods lead them to better lives? Might these families escape poverty altogether, beyond having a better quality of life to help them cope with being poor? Federalpolicymakers and planners thought so, on both counts, and in 1994, they launched Moving to Opportunity. The $80 million social experiment enrolled nearly 5,000 very low-income, mostly black and Hispanic families, many of them on welfare, who were living in public housing in the inner-cityneighborhoods of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Yet five years after they had entered the program, many of the families in the favored "experimental" group had returned to high poverty neighborhoods. Young women showed big drops in risky behavior and big improvements inmental health, on average, while young male movers did not. The males even showed signs of increased delinquency if they had lived, at least for a time, in the low poverty areas. Parents likewise showed major drops in anxiety and depression-two of the crippling symptoms of being chronically poor inhigh-risk ghettos-but not in employment or income. And many movers appeared to be maintaining the same limited social circles-mostly disadvantaged relatives and close friends-despite living in more advantaged neighborhoods.The authors of this important and engaging new book wanted to know why. Moving to Opportunity tackles the great, unresolved question of how to overcome persistent ghetto poverty. It mines a unique demonstration program with a human voice, not just statistics and charts, rooted in the lives of thosewho "signed up" for MTO. It shines a light on the hopes, surprises, achievements and limitations of a major social experiment-and does so at a time of tremendous economic, social, and political change in our nation. As the authors make clear, for all its ambition, MTO is a uniquely Americanexperiment, and this book brings home its lessons for policymakers and advocates, scholars, students, journalists, and all who share a deep concern for opportunity and inequality in our country.

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If "bad" neighborhoods are truly bad for children and families, especially the minority poor, can moving to better neighborhoods lead them to better lives? Might these families escape poverty altogether, beyond having a better quality of life to help them cope with being poor? Federalpolicymakers and planners thought so, on both counts...

Xavier de Souza Briggs is Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget in The White House and Associate Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning (on leave) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A sociologist by training, his award-winning research focuses on leadership and democratic institutions, inequality, and...

other books by Xavier de Souza Briggs

Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:April 7, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195392841

ISBN - 13:9780195392845

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Places and Lives2. Ghetto Poverty Before and After Katrina3. Great Expectations and Muddling Through: Designing and Launching the Experiment4. The Unequal Geography of Opportunity5. Moving to Security6. When Your Neighborhood is Not Your Community7. Struggling to Stay out of High Poverty Neighborhoods: Finding Good Housing8. Finding Good Schools9. Finding Work10. LessonsAppendix. Studying Moving to OpportunityWorks Cited