This brief explores the employment experiences of public housing residents during the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) partnership in the Family Case Management Demonstration. The Demonstration was an innovative effort to test the feasibility of providing comprehensive support services, including pre- and post-job help, for fragile public housing families.
There might be a new way to increase income for public housing residents
Findings & Stats
“Hard to house” residents are those with multiple complex problems, such as serious mental and physical ailments, addiction, domestic violence and histories of lease violations.
A central goal of the transformation of public housing that began in the 1990s was to help residents become more self-sufficient.
Public housing residents face numerous barriers to employment: lack of schooling, poor mental and physical health, limited access to job networks, and physical isolation from opportunity.
Project Match, a Chicago-based workforce development program, combined a human development approach with comprehensive employment services. For their “high advancement” group, earnings jumped 105% over 10 years.
Demonstration participants’ self-reported employment rate increased from 49% in 2007 to 59% in 2009.
Income vs. Employment
While self-reported employment increased for the Demonstration sample, incomes stayed around $10 an hour, leaving most households still living below the poverty level.
Since wages did not improve, public assistance roles from 2007 to 2009 remained relatively unchanged as well: 37% of households received SSI; 68% of households received food stamps; 10% of households received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Statements & Quotations
The most successful effort was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Jobs-Plus program, which sought to connect public housing residents to employment through employment services, rent incentives, and community support for work. Where Jobs-Plus was properly implemented, residents experienced marked employment and earnings increases.
The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration was a partnership of the Urban Institute, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), Heartland Human Care Services, and Housing Choice Partners, intended to test the feasibility of providing wraparound supportive services for vulnerable public housing families.
The demonstration ran from March 2007 to March 2010, targeting approximately 475 households from the CHA’s Dearborn Homes and Madden/Wells developments with intensive case-management services, transitional jobs, financial literacy training, and relocation counseling.
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