Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty

Oxford University Press
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Moving to Opportunity tackles one of America's most enduring dilemmas: the great, unresolved question of how to overcome persistent ghetto poverty. Launched in 1994, the MTO program took a largely untested approach: helping families move from high-poverty, inner-city public housing to low-poverty neighborhoods, some in the suburbs. The book's innovative methodology emphasizes the voices and choices of the program's participants but also rigorously analyzes the changing structures of regional opportunity and constraint that shaped the fortunes of those who "signed up." It shines a light on the hopes, surprises, achievements, and limitations of a major social experiment. As the authors make clear, for all its ambition, MTO is a uniquely American experiment, and this book brings home its powerful lessons for policymakers and advocates, scholars, students, journalists, and all who share a deep concern for opportunity and inequality in our country.
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About the author

Xavier de Souza Briggs is Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the White House and Associate Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning (on leave) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A sociologist by training, his award-winning research focuses on leadership and democratic institutions, inequality, and racial and ethnic diversity in cities. A former faculty member at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, his books include The Geography of Opportunity and Democracy as Problem Solving. He is founder and director of The Community Problem-Solving Project @ MIT and Working Smarter in Community Development, two popular and innovative online resources for people and institutions worldwide, and his views have appeared in the New York Times, Salon.com, National Public Radio, Boston Globe, and other major media. Susan J. Popkin is Director of the Urban Institute's Program on Neighborhoods and Youth Development. She is a nationally recognized expert on assisted housing, mobility, and the "hard to house." Dr. Popkin is the lead author of The Hidden War, has written numerous papers and book chapters on housing and poverty-related issues, and is co-author of the recent book, Public Housing and The Legacy of Segregation. John Goering is a Professor at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College and is on the doctoral faculty of the City University of New York. He is the author or editor of seven books on housing, race and public policy. While at the Office of Policy Development and Research at HUD he helped design and implement MTO, and co-edited the first collection of analyses, Choosing a Better Life?, on this demonstration.
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Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Mar 31, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780199741861
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Political Economy
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A popular version of history trumpets the United States as a diverse "nation of immigrants," welcome to all. The truth, however, is that local communities have a long history of ambivalence toward new arrivals and minorities. Persistent patterns of segregation by race and income still exist in housing and schools, along with a growing emphasis on rapid metropolitan development (sprawl) that encourages upwardly mobile families to abandon older communities and their problems. This dual pattern is becoming increasingly important as America grows more diverse than ever and economic inequality increases. Two recent trends compel new attention to these issues. First, the geography of race and class represents a crucial litmus test for the new "regionalism"—the political movement to address the linked fortunes of cities and suburbs. Second, housing has all but disappeared as a major social policy issue over the past two decades. This timely book shows how unequal housing choices and sprawling development create an unequal geography of opportunity. It emerges from a project sponsored by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University in collaboration with the Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Brookings Institution. The contributors—policy analysts, political observers, social scientists, and urban planners—document key patterns, their consequences, and how we can respond, taking a hard look at both successes and failures of the past. Place still matters, perhaps more than ever. High levels of segregation shape education and job opportunity, crime and insecurity, and long-term economic prospects. These problems cannot be addressed effectively if society assumes that segregation will take care of itself. Contributors include William Apgar (Harvard University), Judith Bell (PolicyLink), Angela Glover Blackwell (PolicyLink), Allegra Calder (Harvard), Karen Chapple (Cal-Berkeley), Camille Charles (Penn), Mary Cunningham (Urban Institute), Casey Dawkins (Virginia Tech), Stephanie DeLuca (Johns Hopkins), John Goering (CUNY), Edward Goetz (U. of Minnesota), Bruce Katz (Brookings), Barbara Lukermann (U. of Minnesota), Gerrit Knaap (U. of Maryland), Arthur Nelson (Virginia Tech), Rolf Pendall (Cornell), Susan J. Popkin (Urban Institute), James Rosenbaum (Northwestern), Stephen L. Ross (U. of Connecticut), Mara Sidney (Rutgers), Phillip Tegeler (Poverty and Race Research Action Council), Tammy Tuck (Northwestern), Margery Austin Turner (Urban Institute), William Julius Wilson (Harvard).
Case studies from around the world and theoretical discussion show how the capacity to act collectively on local problems can be developed, strengthening democracy while changing social and economic outcomes.

Complexity, division, mistrust, and “process paralysis” can thwart leaders and others when they tackle local challenges. In Democracy as Problem Solving, Xavier de Souza Briggs shows how civic capacity—the capacity to create and sustain smart collective action—can be developed and used. In an era of sharp debate over the conditions under which democracy can develop while broadening participation and building community, Briggs argues that understanding and building civic capacity is crucial for strengthening governance and changing the state of the world in the process. More than managing a contest among interest groups or spurring deliberation to reframe issues, democracy can be what the public most desires: a recipe for significant progress on important problems. Briggs examines efforts in six cities, in the United States, Brazil, India, and South Africa, that face the millennial challenges of rapid urban growth, economic restructuring, and investing in the next generation. These challenges demand the engagement of government, business, and nongovernmental sectors. And the keys to progress include the ability to combine learning and bargaining continuously, forge multiple forms of accountability, and find ways to leverage the capacity of the grassroots and what Briggs terms the “grasstops,” regardless of who initiates change or who participates over time. Civic capacity, Briggs shows, can—and must—be developed even in places that lack traditions of cooperative civic action.

A New York Times bestseller and “a passionate, urgent” (The New Yorker) examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.

Central to the very idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity. But over the last quarter century we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. We Americans have always believed that those who have talent and try hard will succeed, but this central tenet of the American Dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.

In Our Kids, Robert Putnam offers a personal and authoritative look at this new American crisis, beginning with the example of his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. The vast majority of those students went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have faced diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich, middle class, and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, brilliantly blended with the latest social-science research.

“A truly masterful volume” (Financial Times), Our Kids provides a disturbing account of the American dream that is “thoughtful and persuasive” (The Economist). Our Kids offers a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence: “No one can finish this book and feel complacent about equal opportunity” (The New York Times Book Review).
Case studies from around the world and theoretical discussion show how the capacity to act collectively on local problems can be developed, strengthening democracy while changing social and economic outcomes.

Complexity, division, mistrust, and “process paralysis” can thwart leaders and others when they tackle local challenges. In Democracy as Problem Solving, Xavier de Souza Briggs shows how civic capacity—the capacity to create and sustain smart collective action—can be developed and used. In an era of sharp debate over the conditions under which democracy can develop while broadening participation and building community, Briggs argues that understanding and building civic capacity is crucial for strengthening governance and changing the state of the world in the process. More than managing a contest among interest groups or spurring deliberation to reframe issues, democracy can be what the public most desires: a recipe for significant progress on important problems. Briggs examines efforts in six cities, in the United States, Brazil, India, and South Africa, that face the millennial challenges of rapid urban growth, economic restructuring, and investing in the next generation. These challenges demand the engagement of government, business, and nongovernmental sectors. And the keys to progress include the ability to combine learning and bargaining continuously, forge multiple forms of accountability, and find ways to leverage the capacity of the grassroots and what Briggs terms the “grasstops,” regardless of who initiates change or who participates over time. Civic capacity, Briggs shows, can—and must—be developed even in places that lack traditions of cooperative civic action.

A popular version of history trumpets the United States as a diverse "nation of immigrants," welcome to all. The truth, however, is that local communities have a long history of ambivalence toward new arrivals and minorities. Persistent patterns of segregation by race and income still exist in housing and schools, along with a growing emphasis on rapid metropolitan development (sprawl) that encourages upwardly mobile families to abandon older communities and their problems. This dual pattern is becoming increasingly important as America grows more diverse than ever and economic inequality increases. Two recent trends compel new attention to these issues. First, the geography of race and class represents a crucial litmus test for the new "regionalism"—the political movement to address the linked fortunes of cities and suburbs. Second, housing has all but disappeared as a major social policy issue over the past two decades. This timely book shows how unequal housing choices and sprawling development create an unequal geography of opportunity. It emerges from a project sponsored by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University in collaboration with the Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Brookings Institution. The contributors—policy analysts, political observers, social scientists, and urban planners—document key patterns, their consequences, and how we can respond, taking a hard look at both successes and failures of the past. Place still matters, perhaps more than ever. High levels of segregation shape education and job opportunity, crime and insecurity, and long-term economic prospects. These problems cannot be addressed effectively if society assumes that segregation will take care of itself. Contributors include William Apgar (Harvard University), Judith Bell (PolicyLink), Angela Glover Blackwell (PolicyLink), Allegra Calder (Harvard), Karen Chapple (Cal-Berkeley), Camille Charles (Penn), Mary Cunningham (Urban Institute), Casey Dawkins (Virginia Tech), Stephanie DeLuca (Johns Hopkins), John Goering (CUNY), Edward Goetz (U. of Minnesota), Bruce Katz (Brookings), Barbara Lukermann (U. of Minnesota), Gerrit Knaap (U. of Maryland), Arthur Nelson (Virginia Tech), Rolf Pendall (Cornell), Susan J. Popkin (Urban Institute), James Rosenbaum (Northwestern), Stephen L. Ross (U. of Connecticut), Mara Sidney (Rutgers), Phillip Tegeler (Poverty and Race Research Action Council), Tammy Tuck (Northwestern), Margery Austin Turner (Urban Institute), William Julius Wilson (Harvard).
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