Switching Schools and Navigating Neighborhoods: Can Housing Vouchers Improve Educational Achievement for Low Income Minority Youth?

Switching Schools and Navigating Neighborhoods: Can Housing Vouchers Improve Educational Achievement for Low Income Minority Youth?

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Abell Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation

Research now conclusively shows that context matters for wellbeing and life chances over and above individual attributes. Concentrated disadvantage comes in many forms, including government housing for the poor. Yet examinations of concentrated disadvantage have never, as far as we know, considered the living conditions and wellbeing of those public housing complexes devoted to housing the elderly and disabled poor.

The J. Van Story Branch Building (JVSB) is an elderly/disabled public housing high-rise in Baltimore city. Over the last decade, the area surrounding JVSB has attracted significant private and institutional investment, refashioning the North Avenue corridor as an arts and cultural district. But while the world changed all around them, the residents of the JVSB building have experienced few improvements to their quality of life. They remain triply disadvantaged: by their disability, their poverty, and their environment.

This project examines the needs of residents living in the J. Van Story Branch Building. We first conducted a survey administered to 161 residents highlighting issues of mobility, maintenance, safety, activities, community, and health. We are in the process of conducting semi-structured interviews will a random subsample of survey respondents.