Families will receive access to housing locator services to assist in their housing search. The services provided will include marketability counseling to help the families prepare for their housing search, opportunity area education to introduce families to the opportunity neighborhoods, and assistance in finding available apartments. These services will be provided by a third-party provider. Participating families will have access to financial assistance to help cover costs that may be higher in opportunity neighborhoods, such as security deposits, moving expenses, and application fees, in the event families do not have the funds to cover those expenses themselves. Landlords in opportunity areas will also have incentives to lease to voucher-holders, including access to a risk mitigation fund to cover damages above and beyond a security deposit. There will be more intensive recruitment efforts to increase the number of landlords willing to lease to voucher-holders in opportunity areas during the program as well.
In Phase II of the study, enrolled families assigned to the treatment group families received one of three possible sets of CMTO services: Coaching Services and Resources, Cost-Optimized Services, and Financial Assistance. These three interventions are based either in whole or in part on the services provided in Phase I, and the breakdown is provided below.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PHAs decided to suspend enrollment in the phase two of CMTO in mid-March of 2020. The PHAs and Navigators continued to provide services for families who had already enrolled in the program, though nearly all interactions were shifted to a remote capacity given the need to follow local social distancing guidelines. This decision was made due to the public health situation, though PHA staff did consult with staff at Opportunity Insights in making the decision.
Coaching Services and Resources: Families could receive Rental Application Coaching, Opportunity Area Education, Housing Search Assistance, Flexible Financial Assistance, and Access to Landlords from Landlord Outreach as described above. This intervention is nearly identical to the intervention from Phase I, with slight deviations outlined above.
Cost-Optimized Services: Families in this group received pared down versions of the interventions described above. For example, families had only one in-person meeting with the Family Navigator, and fewer conversations via text or phone compared to those in the Coaching Services and Resources group. Families in this group did not receive direct customized unit referrals (unless their vouchers were for 3+ bedroom units), but the navigators would help with the housing search process if the family requested such assistance. Additionally, security deposit assistance is capped based on the bedroom size of the family’s voucher using the following limits: 0-1BD: $500, 2BD: $750, 3BD: $1000, 4BD: $1250, 5BD: $1500. Families could access additional financial assistance to cover costs related to application fees, but only for three units at the most.
Financial Assistance: Families in this group only received the full Flexible Financial Assistance available to families in the Coaching Services and Resources group. However, they received none of the other supports aside from some simple opportunity area education so they knew where they were eligible to use the financial assistance.