The Moving to Opportunity is a federal program that “combines tenant-based rental assistance with housing counseling to help very low-income families move from poverty-stricken urban areas to low-poverty neighborhoods.” In an analysis of the program, researchers concluded,
[R]emoving children from concentrated poverty boosts their parents’ sense of well-being, but by itself doesn’t increase children’s reading or mathematics achievement or the likelihood that they will be on track to graduate from high school or be employed as adults. Even children who moved before age 6, considered a critical period for brain development, showed no academic benefits from moving to higher-income neighborhoods.
The program operated in five cities – Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Participants were chosen at random, thus allowing researchers to compare experimental and control groups.
Interestingly, one of the researchers speculated that “the lackluster results for children may point to hidden strengths in their original neighborhoods. Ironically, children in high-poverty neighborhoods may have had more targeted services, such as federal Title I education aid, home visits, or other programs.” It is okay for her to say that because the researcher quoted above is Janet M. Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. If I suggested that a high-poverty neighborhood had hidden strengths, I would be called a racist.
Anyway, a recent study of the Housing Choice Vouchers program agreed that housing vouchers do not boost academic performance.