Session: Understanding the Implications of Residential Mobility for Poor Families and Neighborhoods (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

66 Understanding the Implications of Residential Mobility for Poor Families and Neighborhoods

Cluster: Poverty and Social Policy
Symposium Organizer:

Claudia Coulton, PhD, Case Western Reserve University
Friday, January 15, 2010: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Pacific Concourse A (Hyatt Regency)
Purpose: This symposium will present original research that contributes to understanding how and why families move to or from poor neighborhoods, how they adjust to their changed circumstances, and how mobility decisions of individual households ultimately influence the trajectories of neighborhood change as well. This research has important policy and practice implications because where people live matters. Neighborhood environments have important consequences for the well-being of families and the long-term life chances of their children. The quality of local public services, the prevalence of crime and violence, the influences of peers and social networks, and proximity to jobs can all act to either isolate families from social and economic opportunities or enhance their prospects for the future. A substantial body of social science research finds that growing up in a distressed, high-poverty neighborhood is associated with an increased risk of bad outcomes, including school failure, poor health, delinquency and crime, teen parenting, and joblessness. Despite the clear research evidence for neighborhood effects, we know little about how to mitigate these negative influences on families or how to turn neighborhoods in a more positive direction. Three papers are presented in this symposium that begins to address these gaps in the social work knowledge base.

Methods: The three papers in this symposium represent an array of urban settings, including neighborhoods from 11 metropolitan areas (Chicago, Denver, Des Moines, Hartford, Indianapolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oakland, Providence, San Antonio, and Seattle). They apply a range of research methods, including a quasi experimental design using a “difference in difference” statistical model, an in depth qualitative study using ethnographic methods, and a large household panel survey with a unique sample design that allows estimates of household level and neighborhood level change.

Results: Collectively these papers present important evidence regarding the role of residential mobility in changing circumstances for families and children. Moreover, they provide insight into the processes, such as the decision to relocate, the factors promoting or impeding a move and the phases of adjustment. Additionally, they begin to illuminate connections between individual household choices and pathways of neighborhood change.

Implications: The studies presented in this symposium will speak to the following practice and policy questions: How do families make decisions to move or stay in their low income neighborhoods? What types of programs or incentives help them to move to less poor neighborhoods? What is the process through which families adjust to new neighborhood surroundings and take advantage of new opportunities? What is the effect of housing policy on mobility and neighborhood change? How can residential mobility be harnessed by community change initiatives to improve conditions in poor neighborhoods and the life chances of poor families and children?

* noted as presenting author
From Public Housing to Mixed-Income Housing In Chicago: Insights about Residents' Decisions to Return
Mark Joseph, PhD, Case Western Reserve University; Robert Chaskin, PhD, University of Chicago
Using Housing Policy to Enhance the Sustainability of Low-Income Homeownership and Improve Neighborhood Quality of Life
Anna M. Santiago, PhD, Wayne State University; George C. Galster, PhD, Wayne State University; Cristina M. Tucker, MSW, Wayne State University; Ana H. Santiago-San Roman, MSW, Wayne State University; Andrew T. Linn, MA, Wayne State University; Rebecca A. Grace, Wayne State University
Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Change: New evidence and implications for community initiatives
Claudia Coulton, PhD, Case Western Reserve University; Brett Theodos, The Urban Institute; Margery Turner, The Urban Institute
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