HUD posted Opportunity Neighborhoods for Latino and African American Children in November 2014. The report analyzed telephone and in-person surveys of current and former Denver Housing Authority (DHA) tenants, along with a variety of other data sources. The report demonstrates that neighborhood characteristics can be statistically significant predictors of outcomes for low income Latino and African American children and youth.
The researchers focused on six measures: physical and behavioral health, exposure to violence, risky behavior, educational outcomes, youth and labor market outcomes, and marriage and childbearing. DHA was selected because it administers large conventional public housing developments as well as smaller multifamily developments and scattered site, single-family units in a wide range of neighborhoods throughout the city and county of Denver. Furthermore, from 1987 onward, applicants at the top of the waiting list were randomly assigned to a vacant unit in either the conventional or scattered-site units, making it possible to determine the differences in outcomes between children assigned to various neighborhoods.
Data on neighborhood conditions were drawn from the decennial U.S. Census, Denver’s Piton Foundation’s neighborhood indicator database, and data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The outcomes for children were measured using data from the Denver Child Study telephone survey conducted between 2006 and 2008 including more than 700 current and former DHA tenants with children.
The study found that favorable outcomes for Latino and African American children were associated with living in neighborhoods with “higher occupational prestige,” higher percentages of foreign-born residents, and a lower score on a social problems index. In neighborhoods with higher occupational prestige, children have access to good role models and networks promoting better health, behavioral, and educational outcomes. The social problems index measured the caregiver’s assessment of disorder and crime in their neighborhood. As expected, higher scores on the social problems index were associated with negative outcomes across all of the measures evaluated. In neighborhoods with many foreign-born residents, low income children experienced less exposure to violence (for boys), fewer risky behaviors, better educational performance, and improved employment rates as young adults. It did not appear that low income children of a particular gender or ethnicity were more sensitive than others to neighborhood context.
Opportunity Neighborhoods for Latino and African American Children is at http://www.huduser.org/portal/Publications/pdf/Opportunity_Neighborhoods.pdf