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The Effects of Small Area Fair Market Rents on the Neighborhood Choices of Families with Children

Samuel Dastrup and Meryl Finkel (Abt Global) and Ingrid Gould Ellen (New York University)


December 3, 2019

This article from Abt and New York University explores the efficacy of one particular policy reform aimed at encouraging moves to higher opportunity neighborhoods: Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), which are vouchers that vary with ZIP Code rent levels. (“Higher opportunity” is determined by poverty rates, the proficiency levels of local elementary schools, proximity to jobs and environmental hazards.)
SAFMRs do not appear to affect overall move rates. But, families with children who do move are much more likely to move to higher-opportunity ZIP codes. This research, together with recent literature on the long-term effects of children living in high-opportunity neighborhoods, suggests that the implementation of SAFMRs may achieve some gains in the intergenerational economic wellbeing of low-income families receiving housing choice vouchers.

Read about our SAFMR work.