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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: Verma, Nandita
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Resident mobility can potentially influence the success of place-based self-sufficiency initiatives. Yet, relatively little is known about these patterns, especially among residents of public housing. This dearth of information makes it difficult to implement and evaluate programs that seek to address the self-sufficiency barriers of residents of low-income communities. This paper begins to fill this knowledge gap by examining the intended and actual out-migration patterns of a cohort of residents of five public housing developments participating in the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families ("Jobs-Plus" for short), a multisite initiative to raise residents' employment outcomes.

    The baseline survey and public housing authority administrative records data gathered for the Jobs-Plus evaluation offer a unique opportunity for an unusually detailed analysis of public housing mobility. Jobs-Plus targeted residents living in public housing developments characterized by concentrated joblessness and welfare receipt, and the findings from this...

    Resident mobility can potentially influence the success of place-based self-sufficiency initiatives. Yet, relatively little is known about these patterns, especially among residents of public housing. This dearth of information makes it difficult to implement and evaluate programs that seek to address the self-sufficiency barriers of residents of low-income communities. This paper begins to fill this knowledge gap by examining the intended and actual out-migration patterns of a cohort of residents of five public housing developments participating in the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families ("Jobs-Plus" for short), a multisite initiative to raise residents' employment outcomes.

    The baseline survey and public housing authority administrative records data gathered for the Jobs-Plus evaluation offer a unique opportunity for an unusually detailed analysis of public housing mobility. Jobs-Plus targeted residents living in public housing developments characterized by concentrated joblessness and welfare receipt, and the findings from this paper should be viewed within this context. Drawing on a sample of 1,123 nondisabled, nonelderly household heads who completed a baseline survey before the implementation of Jobs-Plus, this paper attempts to draw insights about resident mobility in places frequently targeted by community initiatives by examining these key questions: Do public housing residents move a great deal? Do they want to move? And what factors differentiate the movers from the stayers?

    Key Findings

    A significant proportion of residents (29 percent) moved out of the Jobs-Plus developments within two years of completing the baseline interview in 1997. The tendency to move varied considerably across the five Jobs-Plus developments, ranging from a high of 44 percent in Day-ton's De Soto Bass Courts to a low of 16 percent in Los Angeles's William Mead Homes.

    Expectations of moving out ran very high among Jobs-Plus residents. Counter to the expectations, fewer than half of those intending to move were able to make that transition during the two-year follow-up period for this paper.

    On average, the typical "mover" had lived in a Jobs-Plus development for less than six years, and compared to residents who stayed, was less likely to report employment barriers, and was more likely to express dissatisfaction with the social and physical conditions in the development and the neighborhood at large. Movers were also more likely to report having experienced episodes of crime and violence.

    Economic self-sufficiency (that is, having access to savings and not receiving public assistance), concerns about keeping children engaged in constructive activities, and experiences of violence are key predictors of the probability of moving out.

    The above findings have broad relevance for community initiatives, which have become an increasingly popular approach for addressing spatially concentrated poverty and unemployment. Given the mobility dynamics of residents of poor neighborhoods and public housing developments, program staff and evaluators will need to pay special attention to both the levels of mobility experienced in potential target areas and the types of residents moving out and understand the implications of such mobility for generating program-related positive spillovers for the community. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kato, Linda Yuriko
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Is it feasible to engage large numbers of public housing residents when employment services are offered right in their own housing developments? This is one of the many questions that the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (“Jobs-Plus” for short) is trying to answer. Since 1998, Jobs-Plus has been under way in six cities in an attempt to raise the employment and earnings of residents of “low-work, high-welfare” public housing developments. Jobs-Plus offers residents employment-related services, rent reforms and other financial work incentives that help to “make work pay,” and community support to strengthen work-sustaining activities among residents. Operating on-site at the developments and offering service referrals to off-site partner agencies, Jobs-Plus seeks to inform all working-age residents about its services and to accommodate all who come forward for help.

     Key Findings

    • Implementation challenges. Program operators had to overcome residents’ entrenched...

    Is it feasible to engage large numbers of public housing residents when employment services are offered right in their own housing developments? This is one of the many questions that the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (“Jobs-Plus” for short) is trying to answer. Since 1998, Jobs-Plus has been under way in six cities in an attempt to raise the employment and earnings of residents of “low-work, high-welfare” public housing developments. Jobs-Plus offers residents employment-related services, rent reforms and other financial work incentives that help to “make work pay,” and community support to strengthen work-sustaining activities among residents. Operating on-site at the developments and offering service referrals to off-site partner agencies, Jobs-Plus seeks to inform all working-age residents about its services and to accommodate all who come forward for help.

     Key Findings

    • Implementation challenges. Program operators had to overcome residents’ entrenched skepticism; contend with crime and safety problems; and address wide variations in residents’ employment histories, cultural backgrounds, and service needs. Efforts to address these problems diverted staff energies away from the program’s immediate employment goals.
    • Saturation. The sites achieved widespread awareness of Jobs-Plus among the target group of residents, enlisting some of them as outreach workers to play a key role in enhancing the program’s profile and credibility among their neighbors.
    • Residents’ engagement. Initial delays in implementing some features of Jobs-Plus added to the challenge of getting residents to embrace the program. However, as of June 2001, over half the targeted working-age residents across the sites had officially attached themselves to Jobs-Plus either as individual enrollees or as members of a household that received rent incentives. As additional Jobs-Plus services and program components became available over time, attachment rates increased among the targeted populations. Jobs-Plus’s place-based approach also permitted the site staff to assist residents in a variety of informal ways that proved critical to the program’s appeal.
    • Contrasting site experiences. Variations in residents’ participation from site to site were influenced primarily by organizational factors, including differences in the sites’ ability to achieve stable program leadership, adequate professional staffing, and continuous support of the local housing authority. At the Dayton and St. Paul sites, an impressive 69 percent and 78 percent of targeted residents, respectively, became attached to Jobs-Plus; by contrast, at the Chattanooga site and at one of the two sites in Los Angeles, only 48 percent and 33 percent of residents were attached to the program.

    This report presents recommendations for how housing authorities and their partner agencies can implement Jobs-Plus’s offer of on-site employment assistance. It describes practical steps that can be taken to promote employment as an expectation that comes with tenancy among working-age residents and to mobilize community resources to address residents’ employment needs. The lessons of this report are also applicable to other place-based employment initiatives that strive to be more accessible and more responsive to residents by locating in low-income communities outside of public housing. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gardenhire-Crooks, Alissa; Blank, Susan; Riccio, James A.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    Public housing residents who leave welfare for work often see their rents rise in tandem with their higher household income, creating a potential disincentive for them to find or keep jobs. The Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families incorporates the first large-scale test of new rent rules that help make low-wage work pay. Drawing on the experiences of housing authorities in six cities, this report presents lessons on the implementation and use of these innovative work incentives as part of a comprehensive package of employment-related assistance.

    Traditionally, public housing rents are set at 30 percent of a household’s income. The Jobs-Plus rent incentives changed this policy in a variety of ways. Some sites continued to calculate rent as a percentage of household income but dropped the rate below the standard 30 percent level. Others established flat rents, which kept rent the same even when earnings increased household income. Most sites enriched their plans with other benefits to reward sustained employment. The plans, which were...

    Public housing residents who leave welfare for work often see their rents rise in tandem with their higher household income, creating a potential disincentive for them to find or keep jobs. The Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families incorporates the first large-scale test of new rent rules that help make low-wage work pay. Drawing on the experiences of housing authorities in six cities, this report presents lessons on the implementation and use of these innovative work incentives as part of a comprehensive package of employment-related assistance.

    Traditionally, public housing rents are set at 30 percent of a household’s income. The Jobs-Plus rent incentives changed this policy in a variety of ways. Some sites continued to calculate rent as a percentage of household income but dropped the rate below the standard 30 percent level. Others established flat rents, which kept rent the same even when earnings increased household income. Most sites enriched their plans with other benefits to reward sustained employment. The plans, which were phased in between 1998 and 2000, reflect — and substantially extend — the public housing rent reforms established by 1998 federal housing legislation.

    Key Findings

    Marketing and explaining rent-based work incentives required sustained, varied, and broadly targeted efforts. The constant arrival of new residents and, in some sites, the range of ethnic groups with vastly different languages and cultures made outreach a challenge. This challenge was compounded by the complex nature of most plans. Helpful tactics in publicizing and clarifying the plans included involving housing managers and resident volunteers in marketing campaigns and seeking diverse forums to explain incentives. Several sites focused outreach on already-employed residents and may have missed opportunities to use incentives to encourage nonworkers to seek employment.

    Residents’ use of the incentives was substantial. The target population for Jobs-Plus included all households headed by residents who were of working age and nondisabled, whether or not they were already employed. Across all sites, 48 percent of such households used rent incentives. In three sites, well over half did so. However, some eligible residents did not use the incentives because they remained unaware of or confused by the offer, were suspicious of a housing authority initiative, or had other reasons for not participating in the plan.

    Residents’ use of the incentives varied dramatically by site. Depending on the site, between 19 percent and 75 percent of all targeted households eventually took advantage of the rent incentives offer. (While only working residents qualified for incentives, site differences in employment rates do not account for this variation.) In general, the rates were highest at sites where housing authority managers actively partnered with Jobs-Plus to promote the incentives.

    Incentives created welcome boosts in household incomes and reportedly encouraged additional work effort among residents who were already employed. The money saved on rent was mostly used to make basic purchases and pay bills. Strikingly, given the generally modest incomes of public housing tenants, some households managed to increase their savings. Reports of some staff and residents suggest that the relationship between incentives and work behavior was mixed, with these reforms doing more to sustain and even increase work among employed residents than to induce nonworkers to find jobs.

    A subsequent report will present findings on how the Jobs-Plus program's full package of incentives, services, and supports affected residents’ employment, earnings, and other outcomes.

  • Individual Author: Polit, Denise F.; Nelson, Laura; Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Seith, David; Rich, Sarah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban...

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban Change sites. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Moreno, Manuel H.; Toros, Halil; Joshi, Vandana; Stevens, Max
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    On January 1, 2003, the first group of welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles reached their five-year time limits on cash assistance received through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors was concerned about how CalWORKs participants and their families have fared after reaching time limits. As a result, on January 21, 2003, the Board adopted a motion instructing the Director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to:

    • Collect data for a six-month period to determine how the time limits have affected employment, family structure, housing stability, supportive service needs, and income.
    • Select a sample of individuals who have not timed-out and collect the same data for comparison purposes.

    DPSS contracted with the Chief Administrative Office, Service Integration Branch-Research and Evaluation Services to carry out the evaluation. The present report encapsulates the research conducted to comply with the Board motion. (author introduction)...

    On January 1, 2003, the first group of welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles reached their five-year time limits on cash assistance received through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors was concerned about how CalWORKs participants and their families have fared after reaching time limits. As a result, on January 21, 2003, the Board adopted a motion instructing the Director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to:

    • Collect data for a six-month period to determine how the time limits have affected employment, family structure, housing stability, supportive service needs, and income.
    • Select a sample of individuals who have not timed-out and collect the same data for comparison purposes.

    DPSS contracted with the Chief Administrative Office, Service Integration Branch-Research and Evaluation Services to carry out the evaluation. The present report encapsulates the research conducted to comply with the Board motion. (author introduction)

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