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A moving lift for poor families

Housing vouchers gave impoverished single mothers emotional but not economic benefits

Single mothers mired in extreme poverty feel considerably better about their lives and are mentally healthier after moving out of public housing with the help of federal housing vouchers, a new study finds. But here’s the bad news: That type of helping hand isn’t strong enough to break the cycle of poverty.

This two-sided trend, uncovered by economist Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago and his colleagues, presents policy makers with a quandary. Designed as poverty-fighting tools, housing vouchers don’t get poor adults off welfare rolls and into decent-paying jobs, Ludwig’s team reports in the Sept. 21 Science. Yet the same black and Hispanic single mothers who received vouchers did cite big emotional benefits after moving from public housing to apartments in somewhat better parts of town.

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