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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Unruh, Rachel; Dahlk, Kira
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    America’s cities have the potential to be the engines of full national economic recovery and growth. Realizing this potential requires investments not only in places, but also in people. The federal government makes a number of investments in the physical capital of urban communities, including public housing and transportation development. These initiatives have the potential to pay off not just in terms of improved community resources, but also in terms of job opportunities for local residents. But these opportunities are lost for a large portion of urban residents—low-literacy, low-skilled adults in particular—unless there are high-quality employment and training services that prepare them for the jobs created by federal investments. The federal government makes investments in the skills of America’s people, primarily through the federally funded public workforce development system. But federal investments that create jobs and federal investments that prepare people for jobs are not always aligned.

    Likewise, at the local level, community development and workforce...

    America’s cities have the potential to be the engines of full national economic recovery and growth. Realizing this potential requires investments not only in places, but also in people. The federal government makes a number of investments in the physical capital of urban communities, including public housing and transportation development. These initiatives have the potential to pay off not just in terms of improved community resources, but also in terms of job opportunities for local residents. But these opportunities are lost for a large portion of urban residents—low-literacy, low-skilled adults in particular—unless there are high-quality employment and training services that prepare them for the jobs created by federal investments. The federal government makes investments in the skills of America’s people, primarily through the federally funded public workforce development system. But federal investments that create jobs and federal investments that prepare people for jobs are not always aligned.

    Likewise, at the local level, community development and workforce development efforts are often not coordinated. Despite growing interest in making this connection, it has been challenging for local community development and workforce development practitioners to collaborate, even as both know that coordination is essential for improving the skills and employability of low-income individuals and for more efficiently using limited public resources.

    Based on interviews with local leaders in five cities (Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, and Twin Cities) who are working at the intersection of workforce and community development, we offer the following findings and recommendations for ways that federal policy is supporting and could better support efforts to integrate workforce development with community development, particularly in the areas of public housing and transportation development. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: The Urban Institute
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

     The overarching goal of the Choice Neighborhoods program (Choice) is to redevelop distressed assisted housing projects and transform the neighborhoods surrounding them into mixed-income, high-opportunity places. Choice builds on lessons learned during HOPE VI, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) long-running program to replace or rehabilitate distressed public housing. It maintains the emphasis of HOPE VI on public-private partnerships and mixed financing for replacing or rehabilitating assisted housing but extends eligibility to privately owned federally subsidized developments. It requires that grantees build at least one subsidized replacement housing unit for every assisted unit demolished in the target development. It also continues the emphasis of HOPE VI on protecting tenants during the redevelopment process and heightens aspirations to give existing tenants the opportunity to live in the redeveloped project upon its completion. It differs most from HOPE VI by providing funding for projects that create synergy between renovation of the target...

     The overarching goal of the Choice Neighborhoods program (Choice) is to redevelop distressed assisted housing projects and transform the neighborhoods surrounding them into mixed-income, high-opportunity places. Choice builds on lessons learned during HOPE VI, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) long-running program to replace or rehabilitate distressed public housing. It maintains the emphasis of HOPE VI on public-private partnerships and mixed financing for replacing or rehabilitating assisted housing but extends eligibility to privately owned federally subsidized developments. It requires that grantees build at least one subsidized replacement housing unit for every assisted unit demolished in the target development. It also continues the emphasis of HOPE VI on protecting tenants during the redevelopment process and heightens aspirations to give existing tenants the opportunity to live in the redeveloped project upon its completion. It differs most from HOPE VI by providing funding for projects that create synergy between renovation of the target development and revitalization efforts within the neighborhood surrounding the target development. Beyond providing funding for neighborhood investments, Choice also fosters partnerships among organizations, agencies, and institutions working throughout the neighborhood to build affordable housing, provide social services, care for and educate children and youth, ensure public safety, and revitalize the neighborhood’s commercial opportunities and infrastructure.

    This interim report provides a preliminary view of the first five Choice implementation sites: Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle. (author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Kato, Linda Yuriko
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Recent waves of immigration have made public housing populations around the nation increasingly diverse, challenging housing authorities to find new ways to provide employment assistance to residents of different ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds. This report examines how the challenge was met by administrators and staff at two housing developments participating in the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, a demonstration project under way in six cities that combines employment assistance, rent incentives, and community-building supports to make work pay by significantly increasing residents’ income. At the two developments — Rainier Vista in Seattle, Washington, and Mt. Airy Homes in St. Paul, Minnesota — immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America who speak nearly two dozen languages settled alongside native-born African-American and Caucasian residents. The varied needs of the foreign-born residents extended far beyond basic language training and assistance in preparing for the...

    Recent waves of immigration have made public housing populations around the nation increasingly diverse, challenging housing authorities to find new ways to provide employment assistance to residents of different ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds. This report examines how the challenge was met by administrators and staff at two housing developments participating in the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, a demonstration project under way in six cities that combines employment assistance, rent incentives, and community-building supports to make work pay by significantly increasing residents’ income. At the two developments — Rainier Vista in Seattle, Washington, and Mt. Airy Homes in St. Paul, Minnesota — immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America who speak nearly two dozen languages settled alongside native-born African-American and Caucasian residents. The varied needs of the foreign-born residents extended far beyond basic language training and assistance in preparing for the workforce. A diverse group themselves, the immigrant residents included urban professionals in need of certification to practice in the United States, rural villagers barely literate in their native languages, and others afflicted by physical ailments and psychological traumas arising from war, torture, and famine.

    By their variety and prevalence in the lives of the developments’ residents, these distinctive issues presented major challenges:

    • Reading cultural cues. Social, personal, and domestic issues that hamper the work efforts of low-income people in the United States had additional cultural dimensions in the case of the foreign-born residents that did not respond readily to standard employment and support services. For instance, foreign-born residents were often reluctant to use professional child care for fear of exposing their children to alien cultural practices, in addition to concern for their children’s safety. Thus, to supplement their broad knowledge of employment issues, the Jobs-Plus staff became well versed in the social cues of the ethnic groups, such as taboos that some groups had against certain foods or mixed meetings of men and women in these developments.
    • Values and work. Employment programs sometimes clashed with cultural priorities. Pressures to direct women into the workforce ran counter to residents’ desire to maintain their traditional gender roles. Similarly, efforts to encourage residents to invest in financial assets and homeownership programs competed with residents’ responsibility to  remit savings to relatives overseas.
    • Institutional barriers. Foreign-born residents were often unfamiliar with a range of institutions in the United States, including employment programs. To help close this gap, program staff adopted a flexible understanding of their service roles, often leaving their offices to reach out to residents in their homes and to accompany them off-site to social service agencies, medical clinics, and immigration offices.

    Administrative equity. Jobs-Plus programs had to balance residents’ needs and preferences for culturally specific services with the goals of preparing them to function in a diverse workplace and building a peaceful, multicultural community in the housing developments. And difficult choices have had to be made about which groups to accommodate with culturally specific services — decisions that inevitably incurred the dissatisfaction of those who were overlooked, including U.S.-born residents. To leverage limited funds and staff time, the programs partnered with local ethnic agencies and hired ethnic staff, including well-respected residents, to build trust and provide culturally appropriate services to the foreign-born residents. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Riccio, James A.; Bliss, Steven
    Reference Type: Report, Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2002

    Residents of the nation's public housing developments have long suffered disproportionately from perverse disincentives to work. Under traditional public housing policies, their rents were automatically ratcheted up in lock step with any income increase they realized from earnings, even in a low-wage job. Work often promised them little financial gain. But a series of reforms over the past decade — in welfare and tax policies, as well as in housing policies — have tipped the financial balance more in favor of work, perhaps to a degree that is not fully appreciated by many public housing residents and administrators. Still, some important disincentives remain.

    This policy brief, one in a continuing series that presents emerging insights from the Jobs-Plus demonstration, discusses innovative attempts to bring public housing rent policies more fully into line with reforms in welfare and tax policies designed to “make work pay.” The rationale underlying the Jobs-Plus approach is reinforced by a growing body of research on welfare families showing that policies that allow low-...

    Residents of the nation's public housing developments have long suffered disproportionately from perverse disincentives to work. Under traditional public housing policies, their rents were automatically ratcheted up in lock step with any income increase they realized from earnings, even in a low-wage job. Work often promised them little financial gain. But a series of reforms over the past decade — in welfare and tax policies, as well as in housing policies — have tipped the financial balance more in favor of work, perhaps to a degree that is not fully appreciated by many public housing residents and administrators. Still, some important disincentives remain.

    This policy brief, one in a continuing series that presents emerging insights from the Jobs-Plus demonstration, discusses innovative attempts to bring public housing rent policies more fully into line with reforms in welfare and tax policies designed to “make work pay.” The rationale underlying the Jobs-Plus approach is reinforced by a growing body of research on welfare families showing that policies that allow low-wage workers to keep more of their benefits or receive earnings supplements can help raise employment and earnings, reduce poverty, and increase the well-being of young children. Jobs-Plus is an innovative “place-based” employment initiative for public housing residents that mixes new rent-based work incentives with employment and training services and “neighbor-to-neighbor” social supports for work. The Jobs-Plus rent reforms build on the non-housing reform policies of the 1990s and push further in this direction. They help to ensure that full-time work will leave a family with more net income than part-time work (which has not always been the case), and that a full-time job will raise income above what that same job would yield under the old rent policies.

    Jobs-Plus anticipated some of the key reforms of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act, passed by Congress in 1998. The strategies and experiences of the Jobs-Plus sites can thus offer guidance to other public housing authorities as they attempt to implement provisions of the new law. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Riccio, James A.; Bliss, Steven
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    This policy brief is one in a continuing series that offers emerging insights from the Jobs-Plus demonstration. Sponsored by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Rockefeller Foundation, and other public and private funders listed at the end of this document, Jobs-Plus is an intensive, “place-based” initiative for increasing employment among public housing residents. MDRC is managing the demonstration and evaluating the program. This brief describes the people and places Jobs-Plus is trying to help, and it outlines the demonstration’s principal goals and evolving strategies.

    The problem of concentrated poverty and joblessness in U.S. cities has intensified in recent decades, with the number of high-poverty neighborhoods more than doubling between 1970 and 1990. Poverty and unemployment are especially acute in public housing developments, many of which are among the most economically disadvantaged communities in the nation. In the current environment of time-limited welfare, the need to boost employment among families in public housing — many of whom have...

    This policy brief is one in a continuing series that offers emerging insights from the Jobs-Plus demonstration. Sponsored by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Rockefeller Foundation, and other public and private funders listed at the end of this document, Jobs-Plus is an intensive, “place-based” initiative for increasing employment among public housing residents. MDRC is managing the demonstration and evaluating the program. This brief describes the people and places Jobs-Plus is trying to help, and it outlines the demonstration’s principal goals and evolving strategies.

    The problem of concentrated poverty and joblessness in U.S. cities has intensified in recent decades, with the number of high-poverty neighborhoods more than doubling between 1970 and 1990. Poverty and unemployment are especially acute in public housing developments, many of which are among the most economically disadvantaged communities in the nation. In the current environment of time-limited welfare, the need to boost employment among families in public housing — many of whom have long histories of welfare receipt — takes on special urgency. Yet in some cities welfare recipients living in public housing appear to be some of the hardest people to employ among welfare recipients and other low-income groups overall.

    Jobs-Plus is a national demonstration project designed to test a multifaceted approach to transforming low-work, high-welfare public housing developments into high-work, low-welfare communities. Initiated in 1996, Jobs-Plus aims to increase employment dramatically by integrating three components — extensive employment-related services, new financial work incentives, and a “community support for work” component — and targeting them toward all working-age residents of participating housing developments. By doing so, Jobs-Plus hopes to move large numbers of residents into steady employment and improve the quality of life in these developments. (author abstract)

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