Senior Program and Policy Advisor, Jessica Porter, works with PHAs across the country to improve their operational efficiencies and provide more housing opportunities for residents.

Safe and decent affordable housing is vital to a person’s well-being and is the first step to increasing overall stability and economic advancement for low-income individuals. However, the location of affordable housing is equally important. HUD’s Mobility Program allows low-income families to move to areas with lower poverty and minority concentrations. Families and individuals who move to areas of “higher opportunity” have increased access to schools, jobs, and other important community amenities.

Quadel Senior Program and Policy Advisor, Jessica Porter, discusses the importance of HUD’s Mobility Program and the characteristics that make a program meaningful to community members.

Program Growth is Incremental

Designing and implementing a Mobility Program can seem daunting to a PHA. Porter reminds executive directors that program implementation can be done in steps. Executive directors should also keep in mind that each PHA can create an approach that meets its unique needs, available resources, and rental market.

“PHAs wanting to implement mobility programs don’t need to try to do everything all at once. Start with providing families with accurate and readable maps of where opportunity areas are located. Including information such as transit maps, crime statistics, and schools is a great start and uses available information with minimal effort,” Porter said. “Implementing policies such as Small Area Fair Market Rates and procedures such as landlord outreach and community partnerships can be done incrementally.”

Understand Moving Can be Stressful

Porter noted numerous studies have shown moving to areas of higher opportunities has a positive impact on the person including, physical and mental health, education, and financial status. However, moving can be a huge challenge for families, and PHA staff should understand the stress it may put on participants. Staff members must practice patience and work with community partners to ensure success.

“The first move can be particularly difficult. Oftentimes, families will try a new area only to return to the more familiar areas they were in before the move. Moves can be disruptive for a family and it may take time to establish children in a new school, engage in community activities, etc.,” Porter said. “Collaboration with community partners, recruitment of property owners, and providing information about communities are all essential in creating programs to support housing choice for our families. When families do better, the (mobility) path becomes more stable and identifiable.”

Success Looks Different for Everyone

It can be hard to judge the success of a mobility program. There are multiple data points to consider – the number of families that move and average household income – but these never tell the whole story. Porter recommends taking data measurements over time to understand program success better.

“Measures should be taken over a while – years.  Some benefits to the family are more difficult to measure, such as health, educational attainment, and feeling of safety. They are all part of the outcome we hope to see from the moves,” Porter said. “HUD has been collecting information for years on what constitutes a successful program, so there are free tools out there that any PHA can use.”

Free HUD tools can be found here.

Quadel has worked with mobility programs across the country – big and small. We understand the importance of this program and are dedicated to helping affordable housing residents move to areas of opportunity. Interested in finding out how Quadel can help your mobility program? Let’s discuss.