• This paper was presented at the Journal of Regional Science Workshop on Immigration at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, November 7–8, 2011, and the 2011 meetings of the North American Regional Science Council in Miami, FL. Previous versions of it and related research were presented at the 2011 mid-year meetings of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association in Washington, DC; the 2011 meetings of the European Regional Science Association in Barcelona, Spain; the 2010 meetings of the North American Regional Science Council in Denver, CO; and at research seminars at the Korean Research Institute on Human Settlements and the USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy. Background research related to this paper was presented at the 2008 meetings of the North American Regional Science Council in Brooklyn, NY. Special thanks to session participants for their helpful comments and feedback and, especially, to Randy Crane for his input on policy outcomes. John I. Carruthers dedicates his work on this project to his favorite non-U.S. citizen, Giuliana Canè.


ABSTRACT Each year, hundreds of thousands of people immigrate to the United States seeking a better way of life, and still hundreds of thousands more become citizens. Some spend time living in public and subsidized housing, sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and, each year, thousands of these individuals attain citizenship. This paper presents an econometric analysis of the propensity of noncitizens living in HUD-sponsored housing to naturalize. Providing housing and other forms of public assistance to noncitizens is controversial but the fact of the matter is that, under current rules, many qualify for aid so, facing that fact, an important contribution of this research is to identify the type of program that works best in the context of broader national objectives. The key finding is that the market-based approach of the housing choice voucher program—and the spatial mobility it facilitates—significantly and substantively contribute to naturalization.