FESSLER: Any day now, they're moving into a new two-bedroom apartment in northeast Seattle. She shows me a picture on her phone of a red brick building - old Navy barracks being converted into affordable housing.

ROSE: It's going to be really exciting to decorate our home, to be able to invite people inside and have it, you know, clear and warm and welcoming.

FESSLER: Monica Rose is benefiting from what many low-income families say is like winning the lottery. She has a housing voucher, or government subsidy, which covers all of her rent over 30% of her income. Almost 2 million families now get such vouchers, but there's a problem. Most end up using them in low-income neighborhoods where their children are more likely to stay poor. Now a group of researchers from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and elsewhere has teamed up with the Seattle and King County Housing Authorities to try to break that cycle.

SARAH BIRKEBAK: Yeah. The mall is all this right here. So shopping is really easy, and you're, like, a minute off of the freeway. So transportation-wise, that's a big selling point for families.

FESSLER: Part of the experiment, funded by the Gates and Surgo Foundations, involves hiring so-called navigators. They help voucher holders find apartments in what are identified as high-opportunity neighborhoods, places where low-income children have done well as adults - earning more, going to college, having fewer teen births. Right now, navigator Sarah Birkebak is showing her colleagues around one such area in Seattle called Northgate. It's a mixed-income neighborhood with a lot to offer, like mass transit, a children's hospital and a community center with a preschool program and other activities.

Read the full article about the Seattle housing experiment by Pam Fessler at NPR.