Promoting Self-Sufficiency in Public Housing; Urban Policy Brief No. 3, 1996
This policy brief reviews U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-sponsored self-sufficiency programs and assesses the impact of these and similar programs on the ability of very low-income families to support themselves without welfare. Of particular interest are HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which is currently underway in housing authorities across the country, and the Gateway Transitional Families Program in Charlotte, North Carolina. Integrated supportive, educational, and vocational services can help those who receive Federal housing assistance to make positive progress towards employment, the Brief finds. Available evidence suggests, however, that the gap between employment and self-sufficiency remains wide. In their first few years out of the programs, HUD self-sufficiency graduates tend to earn around the minimum wage, but the employment income of a single parent with two children working full-time at a minimum wage job in 1995 fell about $3,400 below the Federal poverty level. Due to the limitations of most available research, the long-term earnings potential of self-sufficiency graduates remains uncertain. However, the Brief cites HUD and Congress changes in public housing -- such as allowing housing authorities to hold down rents for wage-earning residents and sponsoring service-enriched environments for residents -- that will help make public housing more conducive to promoting self-sufficiency.