Skip to main content
Back to Top


We don't live outside, we live in here: Neighborhood and residential mobility decisions among low-income families

Date Added to Library: 
Friday, October 26, 2012 - 09:59
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 
Individual Author: 
Rosenblatt, Peter
DeLuca, Stefanie
Reference Type: 
Published Date: 
September 2012
Published Date (Text): 
September 2012
City & Community
Issue Number: 
Page Range: 

Over 20 years of scholarship suggests that living in America's poorest and most dangerous communities diminishes the life course development of children and adults. In the 1990s, the dire conditions of some of these neighborhoods, especially those with large public housing developments, prompted significant policy responses. In addition to the demolition and redevelopment of some of the projects, the federal government launched an experiment to help families leave poor neighborhoods through an assisted housing voucher program called Moving to Opportunity (MTO). While families who moved through this program initially relocated to census tracts with poverty rates almost four times lower than their original projects, many returned to communities of moderate to high poverty. Why? We use mixed methods to explore the patterns and the decision-making processes behind moves among MTO families. Focusing on the Baltimore MTO site, we find that traditional theories for residential choice did not fully explain these outcomes. While limited access to public transportation, housing quality problems, and landlords made it hard for families to move to, or stay in, low-poverty neighborhoods, there were also more striking explanations for their residential trajectories. Many families valued the low-poverty neighborhoods they were originally able to access with their vouchers, but when faced with the need to move again, they often sacrificed neighborhood quality for dwelling quality in order to accommodate changing family needs. Having lived in high-poverty neighborhoods most of their lives, they developed a number of coping strategies and beliefs that made them confident they could handle such a consequential trade-off and protect themselves and their children from the dangers of poorer areas. (author abstract)

Geographic Focus: 
Page Count: 

The SSRC is here to help you! Do you need more information on this record?

If you are unable to access the full-text of the article from the Public URL provided, please email our Librarians for assistance at

In addition to the information on this record provided by the SSRC, you may be able to use the following options to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service or your local library:

  • Worldcat to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service
  • Google Scholar to discover other full text options