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Helping public housing residents find better jobs and build careers: Evaluation findings from New York City’s Jobs-Plus expansion (Leopold et al., 2019)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Not Rated

Review Guidelines

Absence of conflict of interest.


Leopold, J., Anderson, T., McDaniel, M., Hayes, C., Adeeyo, S., & Pitingolo, R. (2019). Helping public housing residents find better jobs and build careers: Evaluation findings from New York City’s Jobs-Plus expansion. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.


Intervention Examined


Features of the Intervention

  • Types of organization: Government agency
  • Location/Setting: Multi-site in New York
  • Population Served: Adults, low-income, low skilled; 10,995 participants
  • Industry Focus: Not included
  • Intervention Activities: Job search assistance
  • Organizational partnerships: Employers
  • Cost: Not included
  • Fidelity: Not included

Jobs-Plus was created in the mid 1990s as a collaboration between the federal government, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation to address low employment and limited economic mobility in public housing. The program focused on individuals with limited connection to the labor market and primarily served residents in one of 18 public housing developments in New York City (NYC). Originally implemented in Harlem in 2009, the Jobs-Plus program expanded to other boroughs to provide economic opportunities for people who had been traditionally underserved. The program provided members with employment-related services that included job search assistance, job placement support, work readiness activities, soft skills training, and supportive services. Participants also received financial counseling and assistance in applying for Earned Income Disallowance benefits. These benefits helped participants stabilize their income. The Jobs-Plus program also included several activities to help promote and strengthen community and community support for work within the target public housing developments.

Features of the Study

The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using qualitative data. Data collection included focus groups with Jobs-Plus participants, in-person site visits with program staff and employers, and phone interviews with key partners and program leaders. The study team conducted phone interviews with program leaders and key partners from eight of the Jobs-Plus expansion sites. In-person site visits were conducted at all 18 Jobs-Plus sites. During the in-person sites visits, the study team met with Jobs-Plus provider staff, NYCHA staff, and employers that worked with Jobs-Plus providers. Additionally, each quarter there was a performance meeting with Jobs-Plus providers, to assess their services provided, enrollments, job placement retention, and average earnings. Focus groups were also conducted at each of the Jobs-Plus sites however, one site opened their focus group to all Jobs-Plus participants and another site had a group of Jobs-Plus participants consisting of men of color from 18-24 years of age.


Intervention activities/services

  • The study found that each of the Jobs-Plus sites received the same instructions to implement Jobs-Plus and used the same job readiness checklist; however, sites used different recruitment methods and their own discretion on how they viewed participants as being “job ready”.
  • The study found that Jobs-Plus sites met or exceeded their enrollment targets. Community coaches were the most effective in recruiting members to Jobs-Plus due to their ability to engage with prospective participants firsthand. Additionally, community events, door to door interactions, social media, employer fairs, and word of mouth were used to recruit.
  • The study found from focus groups that participants viewed Jobs-Plus as a distinct model from other workforce programs because of the intensive coaching, workaround to barriers, working with the needs of participants, and staff showing an interest in working with participants.
  • The study found that while the performance incentives with providers were meant to keep sites staff motivated and efficient, the incentives often prioritized providers to place participants in jobs over providing education and industry specific trainings.
  • Additionally, the performance incentive system required providers to spend time documenting earning rates, hours worked, and other employment details which the authors note could have been spent providing services to participants.

Implementation challenges and solutions

  • The study found that access to childcare, criminal history, safety concerns due to gang activity, public benefits, and low-quality employment were common challenges that impacted job placement.
  • Participants were observed to have a lack of focus on the type of careers that they wished to pursue. To solve these issues, Jobs-Plus hired diverse community coaches and used community elders who had influence amongst a broad range of demographic groups.
  • Sites approached addressing barriers differently. Some sites felt that barriers were unsolvable, while others believed it was part of their job to solve job placement barriers. A third group of sites believed providing high engagement and employment to individuals was the best way to address barriers. To help clients become more focused, sites provided more robust trainings and education to participants to help them become more knowledgeable about how to advance in careers.

Reviewed by CLEAR

August 2023

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