Affordable housing enables moving to opportunity, which improves long-term life outcomes

Economic mobility and anti-poverty advocates ARE housing advocates.  Safe, affordable housing enables low-income people to climb up the income ladder and achieve the American Dream.

A landmark study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty demonstrates the enormous positive impact that affordable housing can have on upward economic mobility for low-income children.  Chetty analyzed the long-term adult outcomes for low-income children whose families used a housing voucher to move from high poverty neighborhoods to lower poverty neighborhoods through HUD’s Moving to Opportunity experiment.

For low-income children who moved before age 13

Because of this, future children and grandchildren were more likely to be raised in a better neighborhood by two parents who have more education and more income, which helps break the cycle of generational poverty.  


“Young adults who had lived in public or voucher-assisted housing as teenagers had higher earnings and lower rates of incarceration than young adults from unassisted low-income households.  The study suggests that housing vouchers and public housing provide low-income parents with greater financial resources to devote to their children’s development, which improves adult outcomes later in life.” (Andersson, Haltiwanger, & Kutzbach, 2016).


In 2012, housing assistance programs such as rental vouchers and public housing lifted 4.0 million people above the poverty line. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)


Affordable housing located in high-opportunity neighborhoods can help promote residential diversity and help children in poor families climb the income ladder as adults.

Places with higher rates of upward mobility for low-income children have less segregation and more residential diversity. As Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren states: “In places where kids of different economic backgrounds are mixing in the same environment, those tend to be places where kids from low-income backgrounds rise up further in the income distribution.”

“Research shows that increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty in the United States”

NLIHC, A Place to Call Home