A program of rent incentives, jobs training, and other labor market activities at public housing has had persistent positive impacts on public housing residents’ incomes according to a new study, the findings from which appear in a policy brief released by the research firm MDRC in January.
The Jobs Plus program, which was fully implemented in Los Angeles, St. Paul, and Dayton, OH, began in 1999 and, from 2000 to 2003, provided labor market services and rent incentives for families who increased their earned incomes. For example, residents were given access to job training and educational programs, and households who saw their incomes rise were not faced with corresponding rent increases. An earlier assessment in 2005 found there were significant gains in earnings for residents at the three Jobs Plus sites. This new assessment looks at data through 2006, seven years after the program began and three years after the program ended.
In the post-program period, the average earnings impact over the three sites ($1,517) was 19% greater than across comparison, non-Jobs Plus sites. The assessment found increases in all three cities and among diverse groups. The report cites the examples of Latino men, Southeast Asians, and African-American single mothers as earning more at the program sites.
The brief concludes that the sustained effects from the program shows the “untapped potential” of residents in project based housing when they are provided support and incentives.
The Jobs Plus program was implemented in six sites, but in Baltimore and Chattanooga it was not fully implemented and in Seattle a Hope VI redevelopment interrupted the program and dispersed the residents.
The brief, Sustained Earnings Gains for Residents in a Public Housing Jobs Program by James A. Riccio, is available at www.mdrc.org/publications/542/policybrief.pdf