Should Poor Kids’ Families Move to Seattle?

“The (study)concluded that children who moved before they were teenagers did indeed benefit economically.”

A large new study  reported by the NY Times  has surprising praise for us.  Seattle, King County and especially Snohomish County are great places for poor kids to grow up! .  Based on analysis of   millions of families that moved from one part of the US to another, poor children who grow up in some cities and towns have sharply better odds of escaping poverty than similar poor children whose parents moved someplace else … especially almost ANY PLACE OTHER THAN SEATTLE!  .

And of course the confederacy continues to be terrible place for poor kids to grow up.

  We all know tat Baltimore is a disaster but this study says that many other cities with minority populations are as bad.   The Times concludes “The findings suggest that geography does not merely separate rich from poor but also plays a large role in determining which poor children achieve the so-called American dream.”

“The data shows we can do something about upward mobility.  Every extra year of childhood spent in a better neighborhood seems to matter.”” said Raj Chetty, one of the study’s authors and  a Harvard professor.

Mobility 2

CLICK the image to go to the interactive map.

Frankly, after reading the NY Times piece, I am not sure why we here by the Sound do so well .  The Times says that places that do well  have elementary schools with higher test scores, a higher share of two-parent families, greater levels of involvement in civic and religious groups and more residential integration of affluent, middle-class and poor families.  Does this describe Seattle and our Northern burbs?  Or could the effect all be due to the increasing populations of idle class people who move out of Seattle to the burbs?

If either case, Seattle’s housing crisis is an impending disaster to for low-income families.  The study defined low income as the 25th percentile of the income distribution — a household earning less than three-quarters of other households nationally, or about $30,000 a year for families with children. .How many families earning $30,000 can live here?  Can folks seeking a better life move from Baltimore of Charleston to Seattle?

Seattle Homes

CLICKME for new answer to Seattle’s housing problems.

The study argues against traditional strategies for these families, like housing projects or vouchers.  Rather, the data suggests that cities need to develop mixed income housing projects where children can grow up in more functional communities.  Julián Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told the NY Times HUD is  planning to reallocate funding, so that some people moving to more expensive neighborhoods would receive larger vouchers. Currently, the value of vouchers tends to be constant across a metropolitan areas.  An important part of this strategy is moving kids form schools overly impacted with poor kids to schools where housing costs more but more affluent parents also contribute more time, money and effort to assuring excellent schools.

 Still we are left with why this worked?  Even if it is true that the more ambitious families moved to Seattle (and similar places) don’t we want to attract these people?

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