Public housing residents in crime-ridden urban areas are migrating to outlying communities in hopes of securing better housing and living in a safer neighborhood.
Low-income families from northern New Jersey are taking their vouchers and seeking lower cost-of-living communities in Pennsylvania, specifically Altoona and Williamsport -- sometimes with the encouragement of public housing officials. Migrants cite health and safety as a major consideration as well as a shortage of decent affordable housing in their own communities.
Over half of the housing waiting list in Altoona, PA, is for people from out of state. While many Altoona residents are leery of the trend (citing increased crime and drugs), many of those making the move say they are simply seeking a better life for themselves.
"I wanted to protect my children ... I wanted to protect my husband because in New Jersey, there's a lot going on. This town has more of what I wanted, a little more peace."
"The Altoona phenomenon is popping up elsewhere:
--Lancaster, Calif. Communities in the Antelope Valley have seen an influx of families from Los Angeles, 70 miles away. Their public-housing vouchers enable them to afford nicer homes than they had in the city.
--Columbus, Ohio. Barbara Clark, head organizer for the local chapter of the affordable-housing advocacy group ACORN, says local families use their subsidies to find homes in the suburbs. "To find a nice home, you have to move way out," Clark says. "
Thanks to Altoid