Housing and Poverty

by Min Zhen Chen

In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty (2015, Census), and in particular, there are a number of children living in poverty. In 2014, 44 percent of children under age 18 (31.4 million) lived in low-income households and 21 percent lived in poor families (15.4 million) in the U.S. The percentage of children living in poor households increased by 18% from 2008 to 2014 in the U.S. (National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, 2016). Increased childhood poverty leads to many disadvantages for children. Research indicates that children living in high-poverty neighborhoods are less likely to perform well in school and are at a higher risk of being involved in criminal activities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an experiment called Moving to Opportunity which involved 4,604 families. They were either placed in a group that received a housing voucher or continued to live in public housing without receiving a voucher. The results show that children who were younger than 13 when their families used the voucher to move to areas with lower poverty rates had 31% (~$3,477) greater average annual wage than those in the control group by their mid-twenties (Wascalus, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis). Today, many of the biggest programs that assist families with housing vouchers are generally Housing Authority programs around the United States.


The director for youth opportunities under the Chicago Housing Authority, Ebony Campbell stated that the mission of the program is to “provide a safe and quality home across Chicago for families in poverty.” She also explained that families who qualify for the program will be open to housing choice vouchers or Section 8 vouchers. The CHA also provides clinical services as well as youth education and jobs to residents or anyone under the CHA program. Under the youth opportunity department, the CHA will also assist high school seniors into getting assistance in paying for college. There are 220 scholarships of $2,500 with only a requirement of a GPA of 2.5 and being in the CHA. Finally, any student who wants to attend a community college can apply for a full tuition scholarship to attend the college.


Finally, through various housing programs like the CHA and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, many families were able to receive vouchers for homes in safer environments. If more programs were available, additional youth living in poverty could have housing in safer environments

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