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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Moving to Opportunity
  • Volume 14 Number 2
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Increasing the Value of MTO Research for Housing Policy Development

Edgar O. Olsen, University of Virginia


The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration has estimated the effects of two concrete reforms of low-income housing policy on one important group those reforms affected. Reforms of this type have received, and will continue to receive, serious consideration in housing policy debates. At this stage, estimating the effects of the MTO reforms on all the people they affected significantly is not feasible. Estimating the effects of two similar reforms that would have almost the same effect on the families studied in MTO, however, is feasible and desirable. These reforms would have no effect on the number of families who receive housing assistance. Instead, they would affect the nature of the housing assistance offered and the taxpayer cost of providing the assistance. One alternative reform would almost surely have generated cost savings and additional revenue exceeding the cost of the vouchers, thereby providing greater benefits than the current system at a lower taxpayer cost. The MTO results supplemented with estimates of the taxpayer cost of either reform would provide a reasonably comprehensive analysis of its effects. This article suggests how to estimate the taxpayer costs of the alternative reforms. Doing so would significantly increase the value of MTO research for housing policy development.

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