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Promoting Work in Public Housing: The Effectiveness of Jobs-Plus (Bloom, Ruccio, & Verma, 2005)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Not Rated

Review Guidelines

Absence of conflict of interest. 


Bloom, H. S., Ruccio, J. A., &; Verma, N. (2005). Promoting work in public housing: The effectiveness of Jobs-Plus. (pp. 1-262, Rep.). New York, New York: MDRC.


  • The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of Jobs-Plus which targeted public housing residents of working age with employment related activities and services, financial incentives to work, and increased community support efforts.
  • The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using qualitative data collected by on site observations.
  • The study found that Jobs-Plus was able to be successfully implemented in 4 of the 6 study sites with a variety of implementation challenges unique to each site.
  • The intervention was not implemented in a policy vacuum and therefore any changes in federal, state, or local policy could affect the intervention. 42% of the 1998 cohort moved out of their development within three years.
  • The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in January of 2017.

Intervention Examined

Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families

Features of the Intervention

  • Type of organization: Local Public Housing Authority
  • Location/setting: Multi-Site in 6 States
  • Population served and scale: Work eligible public housing residents between the ages of 21 and 61
  • Industry focus: Not Included
  • Intervention activities: Employment services and activities; work incentives in the form of changed rent rules; and increased community support activities
  • Organizational Partnerships: Local workforce development boards, HUD, the DoL
  • Cost: Approximate cost per participant: $150
  • Fidelity: Not Included

The Jobs-Plus intervention consisted of three parts; employment-related services and activities, financial incentives to work, and community support for work. The employment-related services and activities were provided both on site in the developments and within the local community and included education, training, and job search skills. The intervention also financially incentivized work by implementing new rent rules which reduced the extent that increased earnings in turn increase rent. Finally, the intervention looked to increase community support for work through information sharing, peer support and mutual aid among community members. The intervention was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with local housing authorities and ran from 1998 to 2003. All working aged residents of the implementation developments were eligible for participation in the program and participation was voluntary.

Features of the Study

Sites were chosen through a national competition, from which sites were selected based on established criteria. These sites were then asked to submit a statement of interest, and from these statements 15 cities were chosen to develop preliminary plans. From these plans, six cities continued into the main stage of the implementation. To be considered the developments had to have at least 250 units occupied with at least 1 working adult. Of these families, less than 30% could have an employed member and at least 40% had to be receiving welfare services. There were 15 sites included in the study. Qualitative data was collected by on-site researchers and MDRC staff who observed program operations, conducted open ended resident interviews, and investigating activities at the comparison sites which was used as the basis for the implementation study. At each site, the staff consisted of a project director, case manager / job counselors, job developers, and resident liaisons. Staff positions were filled by both employees of the housing authority or collaborating agencies and residents at some sites


Implementation challenges and solutions

  • Two of the 6 sites were unable to develop coherent programs of reasonable quality. The full implementation of the program was delayed as it took close to 2 years for the funds to cover the rent incentives to be appropriated.
  • Many of the implementation sites had issues filling staff positions related to the intervention, however, once the positions were filled, staff stayed until the end of the demonstration period.
  • The authors also noted the importance of the housing authorities support of this program, as cities where authority leadership turnover was high and were less supportive often faced greater challenges.
  • The cultural diversity of the developments often required increased efforts to provide culturally appropriate assistance. Generally, program staff had to address the complex needs of residents that varied from implementation site to implementation site and included issues such as substance abuse, high resident turnover, and cultural differences.
  • In retrospect, the delay of the rent incentives made the implementation a "staged" implementation, which may have been helpful for implementation since operationalizing all the implementation components at once appeared to be burdensome for sites. 


  • The authors roughly estimate the cost of running the on-site portion of the program per month as $150 per enrolled resident based on the experience of the 3 stronger implementation sites. The authors noted that this may be a high-end estimate as developments may already offer some of the services which are a part of the intervention. The cost of serving newer tenants is likely to exceed the cost of current tenants which may affect the overall costs of the program.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The intervention was not implemented in a policy vacuum and therefore any changes in federal, state, or local policy could affect the intervention. Notably, 42% of the 1998 cohort moved out of their development within three years.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2023

Topic Area

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