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Young and Van Hollen Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Mobility, Keep Families Together, and Move Children to Areas of Opportunity

December 18, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today introduced the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act to improve life outcomes for families with young children by moving them to areas of greater opportunity. When a child grows up in a high opportunity area, they are more likely to have successful life outcomes. Whether it be lower-crime, better education, access to transportation, quality healthcare, or suitable housing, higher opportunity areas offer children a greater chance to succeed. This bipartisan bill recognizes that certain areas offer different opportunities and will increase mobility by allowing people to choose the best neighborhood for their family.

“The American Dream should extend to every American child, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Evidence clearly shows what happens when we empower families with young children to relocate to areas offering good jobs, quality schools, and safe neighborhoods: earnings grow, job vacancies are filled, poverty declines, and children more fully realize their God-given potential,” said Senator Young. “This bill draws on recent groundbreaking research to invest in housing mobility vouchers and customized relocation support services to improve life outcomes and strengthen Hoosier families, all while substantially reducing taxpayer expenditures on healthcare, public safety, and social services.”

“Every American family deserves access to a safe, affordable home. But for young children, this need is especially dire. Stability at home helps promote their future success – in school and later in their careers. As our communities struggle to keep up with the demand for affordable housing, housing vouchers have proven to be an effective solution to this problem. This legislation will expand their availability and increase opportunity for our young and most vulnerable. I am proud to introduce this bill with my Republican colleague Senator Young, and I will continue working to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed,” said Senator Van Hollen.  

The Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act puts a significant down payment on evidence-based housing mobility vouchers for the nation’s most vulnerable families with young children. The bill couples mobility vouchers with customized support services to help families escape the cycle of poverty and move to high opportunity areas.

Specifically the bill:

  • Creates an additional 500,000 housing vouchers over five years for low-income, high-need families with young children. Pregnant women and families with a child under age 6 would qualify for these new vouchers if they have a history of homelessness or housing instability, live in an area of concentrated poverty, or are at risk of being pushed out of an opportunity area. 
  • Provides voucher recipients with access to counseling and case management services that have a proven track record of helping families move out of poverty.
  • The bills resources would enable housing agencies to engage new landlords in the voucher program and connect families with information about housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods, and community-based supports for families as they move.

Click here to view the bill text.

Click here to view the one pager.

Support for the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act:

“We believe the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act of 2019 builds on the latest research evidence on the profound impacts of high opportunity areas on low-income children’s economic mobility; we support the research-informed approaches outlined in the bill and believe it puts forward important resources and policies for improving children’s long-term outcomes,” said Raj Chetty, Opportunity Insights at Harvard University.

“America’s lowest income citizens lack access to both financial and social capital.  The good policy of housing vouchers closes this gap by opening the door to neighborhoods filled with healthy families, engaged citizens, and economic opportunity,” said Jay Hein, President of Sagamore Institute.

“The Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act of 2019 takes a significant step toward changing the face of poverty in the United States. This will reduce homelessness and evictions, keep families together, free up dollars to be spent on different life necessities, and increase opportunity for success,” said Matthew Desmond, author of ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’.

“The Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act will expand assistance targeted to families urgently in need and prove that poverty is a cycle that can be broken,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana. “Our network enthusiastically supports this bill and applauds Senator Young for his leadership in working to ensure unstably housed families and children in our state and across the country have more equitable opportunities to thrive in all facets of life.”

“The Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act introduced by Senators Young and Van Hollen will give hundreds of thousands of children a better chance of long-term success by helping their families afford housing in neighborhoods with quality schools and other opportunities that promote healthy child development and improved outcomes as adults,” said Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “This legislation is important to giving many children in low-income families a better start in life.”

“Low-income children facing housing instability and growing up in neighborhoods of extreme poverty are more likely to struggle in school, more likely to experience adverse health outcomes, and less likely to climb the income ladder as adults,” said Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. “Research clearly shows that Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers can dramatically improve the life trajectories of low-income children by expanding access to stable, affordable housing located in safe, well-resourced communities.  This legislation contains one of the most research-based and cost-effective policy tools available to the federal government to dramatically improve upward mobility for the next generation.”

For the full list of quotes of support, click here.

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