Supporting Neighborhood Opportunity in Massachusetts (SNO Mass) helps families with children who are eligible for Housing Choice Vouchers, commonly known as Section 8, move to neighborhoods in SNO Mass designated “opportunity areas”—neighborhoods with more of the resources children need to thrive. The program works with families to identify high-opportunity neighborhoods and find appropriate housing in those neighborhoods and helps defray the costs of moving. Each family is matched with a mobility specialist, who supports families through the process of moving and getting settled in their new neighborhoods. SNO Mass also works closely with landlords to encourage them to participate in the program and to support them once they begin leasing to program participants.
diversitydatakids.org partnered with SNO Mass to define its designated opportunity areas and provide the data for its address locater tool, which families use to explore neighborhoods they are interested in moving to and identify potential rental properties. We partnered with SNO Mass for a number of years, customizing the COI to reflect local conditions and providing specialized support and analysis to the team that developed the address locator tool.
Positive outcomes for children and families
A recent study of SNO Mass participants’ experiences and early outcomes has promising findings. Overall, 125 families—including 270 children—have moved to higher-opportunity neighborhoods since 2019 as a result of the program.
The positive impacts for these families and their children have been profound. Through interviews and post-move surveys of thirty-four families, the study revealed improved physical and mental health, feelings of safety, educational opportunities, and access to outdoor public activities and green space in their new neighborhoods. Nearly all described their new neighborhood as inclusive and welcoming. The participants also expressed great satisfaction with the program, with a remarkable 88% reporting that they could not identify any drawbacks for themselves or their children after relocating to their new SNO Mass neighborhood.
The video below, created by the housing provider program Way Finders in western Massachusetts, shares how SNO Mass can help transform families' quality of life.
An earlier version of this story was first published in October 2021.