Helping More Kids Live in Better Neighborhoods

Honest question: How many of you have fond memories of the neighborhoods you grew up in?

Shouldn’t every child have the opportunity to grow up in safe neighborhoods full of tangible opportunities they can see?

However, in a piece for the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity Blog, Barbara Sard from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities writes, “The three main federal rental assistance programs have a disappointing track record for helping low-income families avoid high-poverty neighborhoods and live in healthier communities with better opportunities.”

As a solution, Sard outlines four recommendations to improve housing programs in order to ensure that families with children avoid toxic stress and have access to quality schools and opportunity.

Some of us may take for granted the benefits of well-funded schools, lower-crime areas, and alternative transportation options to get to school and work. But for families without them, it can make it that much harder to get ahead.

And after taking a moment to study Opportunity Nation’s Opportunity Index, it’s no secret that in today’s world, your zip code does determine what opportunities you have and your chance for success in life.

Linking families to opportunity is the basis of her recommendations to improve federal rental assistance programs.

From providing incentives to agencies that help families use vouchers in low-poverty, high-opportunity areas, to adjusting or removing caps on rental subsidies that don’t adequately reflect local price trends, Sard’s recommendations focus on ways that families with children who receive rental assistance can have access to the same opportunities as children who don’t.

She concludes her piece by saying, “This focus on helping families live in areas with more opportunities for their children does not mean that policymakers shouldn’t pursue broader strategies to increase incomes, enhance safety, and improve educational performance in very poor areas.”

In other words, this isn’t a silver bullet for solving the obstacles these families face, but perhaps, with her recommendations and other efforts, the efficacy of housing programs can be improved as they help more families pursue opportunities.

Read the piece on the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity blog.

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