• The Housing-Health Connection
  • Volume 20, Number 2
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Work Requirements and Well-Being in Public Housing

Kirstin Frescoln
Children and Family Futures

Mai Thi Nguyen
William M. Rohe
Michael D. Webb
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


  • Objectives: Work requirements in public housing are highly controversial, and little is known about their impacts. We examined how implementation of a work requirement paired with supportive services by Charlotte Housing Authority has impacted residents’ overall well-being. Although the policy might improve well-being by increasing household income, it might also engender stress through greater housing precarity.
  • Methods: This mixed-methods study analyzes data from 126 resident surveys conducted before and after work requirement implementation, interviews with 48 residents, and household-level administrative data. Survey and administrative data capture changes in income and health between 2010 and 2014. Interviews provide qualitative insights on changes in health, household income, and overall well-being.
  • Results: We find that residents want to work and report both positive and negative effects associated with the work requirement. Resident interviews suggest increases in household income led to a reduction in overall stressors. Negative impacts include cuts in or elimination of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (more commonly known as food stamps). Self-rated health did not improve.
  • Conclusions: We find work requirements—when implemented with case management and opportunities to complete work-related activities in lieu of employment—are associated with both positive and negative impacts. We urge public housing agencies implementing similar policies to carefully monitor and evaluate not only changes in household income and evictions but also welfare supports and the health and wellbeing of all residents in households affected by the policy.


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