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Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing Demonstration: Interim Impacts Evaluation, Tier 1 Restricted Access Data, 1994-2001 [United States] (ICPSR 31661)

Principal Investigator(s):


Moving to Opportunity (MTO) was designed to answer questions about what happens when very poor families have the chance to move out of subsidized housing in the poorest neighborhoods of five very large American cities. MTO was a demonstration program: its approach combined tenant-based housing vouchers with location restrictions and housing counseling. MTO was also a randomized social experiment, carefully designed and rigorously implemented to test the effects of this approach on participating families. The interim evaluation included the collection of data on a wide range of outcomes that could potentially be affected by the MTO intervention. These outcomes fit into 6 study domains: (1) mobility, housing, and neighborhood, (2) adult and child physical and mental health, (3) child educational achievement, (4) youth delinquency and risky behavior, (5) adult and youth employment and earnings, and (6) household income and public assistance receipt. The restricted access data being made available through ICPSR includes many such analytic variables constructed from surveys and administrative data. The Tier 1 data also includes a census tract ID that allows researchers to link other neighborhood-level data.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access. (Instructions on YouTube.)

    These data and documentation are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR Restricted Data Contract Portal, which can be accessed via the study home page. Basic information about research usage of these data will be provided to the funding agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Orr, Larry. Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing Demonstration: Interim Impacts Evaluation, Tier 1 Restricted Access Data, 1994-2001 [United States]. ICPSR31661-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-06-28. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR31661.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   children, community involvement, education, educational assessment, educational environment, employee benefits, employment, food security, health, health behavior, health care, home ownership, homelessness, household composition, household income, housing conditions, housing costs, housing discrimination, housing occupancy, housing programs, housing units, income, job training, life plans, mental health, neighborhood conditions, neighborhoods, parent child relationship, parental attitudes, performance, poverty, public assistance programs, public utilities, rental housing, satisfaction, social behavior, social networks, student attitudes, student behavior, student misconduct, time utilization, transportation, welfare services, youths

Smallest Geographic Unit:   census tract

Geographic Coverage:   Baltimore, Boston, California, Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York (state), New York City, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1994--2001

Date of Collection:  

  • 2001--2002

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Residents of public or assisted housing in very poor neighborhoods in large cities.

Data Types:   aggregate data

Data Collection Notes:

These data and documentation are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development if further information is desired. As these data and documentation are being released in a zipped package, a documentation file has been provided by ICPSR to describe the contents of this zipped package.

For further information in regard to this collection, please review the "Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Demonstration: Interim Impacts Evaluation" report which includes an Executive Summary. This document can be accessed through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Web site.


Study Design:   Between 1994 and 1998, the housing authorities in five demonstration sites -- Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York -- worked in partnership with local nonprofit counseling organizations to recruit about 4,600 very low-income families for MTO. Each family was randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) The experimental group was offered housing vouchers that could only be used in low-poverty neighborhoods (where less than 10 percent of the population was poor). Local counseling agencies helped the experimental group members to find and lease units in qualifying neighborhoods. (2) The Section 8 group was offered vouchers according to the regular rules and services of the Section 8 program at that time, with no geographical restriction and no special assistance. (3) The control group members were not offered vouchers but continued to live in public housing or receive other project-based housing assistance. To use their vouchers, families assigned to the experimental group had to move to low-poverty areas. Those in the Section 8 group could use their vouchers to move to neighborhoods of their own choosing. Both groups were required to make these moves within a limited amount of time. In order to retain their vouchers, experimental families were required to stay in low-poverty areas for one year, after which they could move without locational constraints. Random assignment makes the three groups of participating families statistically the same, so that any later significant differences in the neighborhoods, housing, employment, or other aspects of the experimental group's lives in comparison with the control group can be attributed to the MTO intervention. Of course, such differences should only be attributed to MTO if there are social scientific hypotheses suggesting that changing location can influence these outcomes.

Sample:   All participants were surveyed (one adult per household). Participants were selected randomly.

Weight:   Please review the documentation files provided with this study for information about the weight variables.

Mode of Data Collection:   coded on-site observation

Response Rates:   89 percent


Original ICPSR Release:  

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