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Evaluating HUD’s Community Choice Demonstration


  • Can services and financial supports help families with federal Housing Choice Vouchers access opportunity areas?
  • On behalf of HUD, Abt and its partners are evaluating the federal Community Choice Demonstration.
  • Findings will inform future policy decisions to help families access areas that support economic mobility and possibly improve child well-being
The Challenge

More than 2.3 million households participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program, and almost a million of these households are comprised of families with children. With these vouchers, families can lease housing in a location of their choice, provided they find an affordable unit and a willing owner.  As rents rise and competition increases for housing, families with vouchers can find it difficult to attain housing in lower poverty areas that have high-performing schools and other amenities that support economic mobility.

Research continues to show that where a person grows up matters to their long-term well-being. The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Demonstration provided important evidence on the effects of using vouchers in low-poverty neighborhoods on children and adults, and the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) Demonstration tested interventions that could reduce barriers for families moving to high opportunity areas.

With Congressional authority, HUD created the Community Choice Demonstration to build on this existing evidence and determine whether CMTO can be replicated in other cities and which mobility-related services facilitate moves to opportunity areas, including an assessment of cost-effectiveness.

The Approach

Under contract to HUD, Abt’s five-year evaluation of Phase 1 of the Community Choice Demonstration will help shed light on the extent to which mobility-related services can help families access opportunity areas in eight locations around the United States. The Abt team—along with partners at the Urban Institute, MEF Associates, Social Policy Research Associates, and Sage Computing—will evaluate the impact of the demonstration to help inform future policy decisions.

The study is a large-scale, multi-site randomized controlled trial using a mixed methods design to assess the effectiveness of mobility-related services in facilitating moves to—and retention in—areas of opportunity. The study will also examine the cost of comprehensive and bundled mobility-related services.

The Results

The study will help assess whether and to what extent the offer of mobility-related services helps families with housing vouchers access opportunity areas.  Additional components of the study examine whether the offer of mobility-related services leads to improvements in child health and well-being, and improvements in housing quality.  Researchers at Johns Hopkins are using the Demonstration platform to examine whether and to what extent the offer of mobility-related services improves adult obesity and diabetes outcomes.

The evaluation is underway and early learning reports are expected in 2024.

Related Reports:

Research Design, Data Collection, and Analysis Plan


Daniel Gubits

Daniel Gubits, Ph.D.

Principal Associate, Social & Economic Policy
Jeffrey Lubell

Jeffrey Lubell, J.D.

Principal Associate and Director of Housing and Community Initiatives, Social & Economic Policy
Samuel Dastrup

Samuel Dastrup, Ph.D.

Scott Brown

Scott Brown, Ph.D.

Senior Associate
Jonathan Dorn

Jonathan Dorn, Ph.D., MPP, PMP

Senior Associate, Abt Global
Laura Paulen

Laura Paulen, MPP

Adriana Antezana, MPH

Adriana Antezana, MPH