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Urban Institute

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Findings from the Accelerating Opportunity evaluation: Building the evidence on integrated career pathways

Individual Author: 
Eyster, Lauren
Barnow, Burt S.
Anderson, Theresa
Conway, Maureen
Lerman, Robert I.
Jain, Ranita
Kuehn, Daniel
Montes, Marcela

This brief summarizes findings from implementation, impact, and cost-benefit evaluations of Accelerating Opportunity (AO). AO is a career pathways initiative launched in 2011 that aims to help adults with low basic skills earn valued occupational credentials, obtain well-paying jobs, and sustain rewarding careers. AO was one of the first efforts to replicate and scale key elements of Washington state's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model. The evaluation took place in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

Financing supportive services in assisted communities

Individual Author: 
Parkes, Rhae

This brief describes strategies and opportunities for Public Housing Authorities and other owners and operators of assisted housing to finance supportive services. This brief is not exhaustive, but it compiles lessons and observations based on the author’s work in the industry. Given the significant challenges some families face, even while housed, no single strategy will work in isolation. A multilayered approach is needed to develop more sustainable platforms on which to deliver supportive services. (Author abstract) 

The case for more, not less: Shortfalls in federal housing assistance and gaps in evidence for proposed policy changes

Individual Author: 
Scally, Corianne
Batko, Samantha
Popkin, Susan
DuBois, Nicole

Recent proposals, including the President’s FY 2018 proposed budget and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s A Better Way plan, propose deep cuts and possible reforms to housing assistance. Currently, only one in five eligible renter households receives federal assistance. Any reductions to funding and the proposed reforms threaten the well-being of millions of households.

Implementation and sustainability of juvenile reentry programs in Second Chance Act sites: Evaluation sites in Oklahoma and Virginia

Individual Author: 
Hussermann, Jeanette
Liberman, Akiva
Parks, Erika

Delivering reentry services to youth proves challenging. This brief describes the implementation and sustainability of two Juvenile Second Chance Act reentry programs in Oklahoma and Virginia. Drawing from semi-structured interviews with grantees and community and state stakeholders conducted between 2013 and 2016, evaluators document the challenges to providing prerelease support and coordinating services among institutional and community supervision agencies and organizations.

Housing as a safety net: Ensuring housing security for the most vulnerable

Individual Author: 
Galvez, Martha M.
Brennan, Maya
Meixell, Brady
Pendall, Rolf

Our existing housing system fails to provide our nation’s most vulnerable households access to safe, affordable, stable housing. Instead, millions of low-income households pay large portions of their income on rent or live in substandard conditions—triggering chronic economic instability that at best undermines economic security and well-being, and at worst pulls low-income families deeper into poverty.

Strengthening communities with neighborhood data

Individual Author: 
Kingsley, G. Thomas
Coulton, Claudia J.
Pettit, Kathryn L.S.

Efforts to address the problems of distressed urban neighborhoods stretch back to the 1800s, but until relatively recently, data played little role in forming policy. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that all the factors necessary for rigorous, multifaceted analysis of neighborhood conditions—automated government records, geospatial information systems, and local organizations that could leverage both—converged. Strengthening Communities documents that convergence and details its progress, plotting the ways data are improving local governance in America. (Author abstract)  

Work requirements in social safety net programs: A status report of work requirements in TANF, SNAP, housing assistance, and Medicaid

Individual Author: 
Hahn, Heather
Levy, Diane K.
Pratt, Eleanor
Waxman, Elaine
Allen, Eva H.
Kenney, Genevieve M.

This report presents information on the work requirements currently in use in TANF, SNAP, and federal housing assistance programs and discusses the available evidence on implementation experiences and impacts. It also describes Medicaid waiver requests currently under consideration at CMS that would include work requirements and closes by highlighting key questions for consideration when assessing the use of work requirements in safety net programs.

Access to contraception in 2016 and what it means to women

Individual Author: 
Johnston, Emily M.
Courtot, Brigette
Kenney, Genevieve M.

Understanding women’s access to contraception in 2016 is particularly important given the uncertainty of policies affecting access to reproductive health services in the future. This brief provides estimates of self-reported access to contraception among women at risk of unintended pregnancy and perceptions of the role of birth control in women’s lives. Most women are using contraception, the full cost of which is usually covered by health insurance or another program. Yet, some women report barriers to contraception access, many of which are related to cost.

Opportunity Works implementation report: Lessons from the Back on Track model for opportunity youth

Individual Author: 
Anderson, Theresa
Dodkowitz, Alan
Braga, Breno
Damron, Neil
Derrick-Mills, Teresa
Lipman, Micaela
Martin-Caughey, Ananda
Peters, H. Elizabeth
Pratt, Eleanor
Winkler, Mary K.

The Opportunity Works intervention replicates and scales up the Back on Track framework to help opportunity youth—young people ages 16 to 24 not in school and not meaningfully employed—progress along educational pathways. Managed by Jobs for the Future and funded by the Social Innovation Fund, Opportunity Works operates in Boston, Hartford, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and South King County. This report contains final implementation findings from the Urban Institute.

Welfare rules databook: State TANF policies as of July 2016

Individual Author: 
Giannarelli, Linda
Heffernan, Christine
Minton, Sarah
Thompson, Megan
Stevens, Kathryn

This annual publication, The Welfare Rules Databook, provides tables containing key Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies for each state as of July 2016, as well as longitudinal tables describing various state policies for selected years between 1996 and 2016. The tables are based on the information in the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a publicly available, online database.