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Moving to opportunity

Housing vouchers have helped thousands leave segregated, impoverished neighborhoods for communities with more

Sabrina Oliver's powerful personal story, as described in a recent Sun report, highlights the kinds of opportunities that should be made available to more families ("Baltimore on the spot as HUD announces fair-housing rule," July 10).

Using a housing choice voucher and mobility counseling provided by the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, Ms. Oliver moved from her highly segregated and impoverished neighborhood to a higher opportunity neighborhood, dramatically improving her prospects and those of her children.

The Baltimore Housing Mobility Program grew out of a public housing desegregation lawsuit filed by the ACLU in the 1990s. Operated by the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership, the program has enabled 2,800 families to move from distressed Baltimore neighborhoods to more stable areas in the city and surrounding region. It is one of the largest such efforts in the country.

Studies have shown that this type of program is especially effective in improving the long-term prospects of young children. There is no lack of interest. Currently, our waiting list includes more than 7,000 families.

Stories like Ms. Oliver's, and those of others like her, should help persuade policy-makers that housing mobility programs should be expanded to assist more parents who want to provide better opportunities for their children.

Alison Bell Shuman and Rachel Brash, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, executive director and policy and research director of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership.

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