By Dr. Joy Martinez, Staff Writer
The place-based Jobs Plus Initiative program addresses poverty among public housing residents by incentivizing and enabling employment through income disregards for working families, and a set of services designed to support work including employer linkages, job placement and counseling, educational advancement, and financial counseling. Ideally, these incentives will saturate the target developments, building a culture of work and making working families the norm.
The initial version of Jobs Plus was launched in January 2011 as a five-year initiative in the Bronx, New York, and San Antonio, Texas. These programs provided an opportunity to see how the program would succeed under different circumstances: where the provider is a public housing authority, while in the other the program was administered by a nonprofit community-based organization; one delivers services on-site, the other off-site. The two also illustrated different roles of the “Collaborative,” a Jobs-Plus governance body and vehicle for interagency coordination. In the Bronx, the Collaborative had a strong presence and brought other city agencies into it including the Human Resources Administration, NYCHA, the Department of Small Business Services (which runs the city’s workforce agencies), and the Office of Financial Empowerment. These agencies served as a sounding board for Jobs Plus implementation also imparted knowledge to BronxWorks through training events, provided introductions to other organizations implementing similar programs, and helped BronxWorks create a data system for financial counseling.
In 2021, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $28 million investment to 12 public housing agencies (PHA) to help families increase their earned income and improve their economic mobility. This year, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North and South Carolina won grant awards of over $28 Million dollars.
In Greensboro, Lincoln Homes is comprised of 289 units with over 200 work-able individuals. The economic conditions at Lincoln Homes are severe: 80 percent of the residents have incomes that qualify as Extremely Low Income, with 90 percent qualifying as Very Low Income or worse. In addition, 85 percent of the work-able residents have no earned income.
The Housing Authority of the City of Goldsboro (HACG) Jobs Plus program is planning to provide the residents at Lincoln Homes Apartments an opportunity to reach their highest potential and take steps that will lead to their eventual self-sufficiency. HACG and its partners will provide ongoing training and supportive services, including employment-related services with the following:
-Employment and employment related services.
-Financial literacy coaching and information.
-Supportive services to ensure residents overcome their barriers to employment.
In the end, the HACG Jobs Plus program will allow the households that reported no earned income, those dependent on social services an opportunity to end their cycle of poverty, create their own action plans to overcome obstacles, and become self-sufficient. Jobs Plus will create a culture that values work, praises responsibility, and honors economic independence and a culture that will la
In Rock Hill, South Carolina Workman Street housing development is comprised of 369 units with 246 work-able individuals, and their residents are faced with extensive challenges to employability. This includes over 60 percent of the residents at the target site have no earned income. In addition, over ninety percent of the residents have earned incomes that qualify as very low income or less.
The Rock Hill Housing Authority (RHHA) will use its Jobs Plus grant to develop local job-driven approaches to increase earnings and advance employment opportunities through job placement, educational advancement, work readiness programs, employer linkages, technology skills, and financial literacy. To accomplish the overall mission, HUD granted the RHHA to achieve the following goals:
-Provide residents with the opportunity to lift themselves out of abject poverty and the means to become self-sufficient.
-Provide an evidence-based method of providing employment and employment-related services.
-Empower residents to move out of public housing by giving them the financial skills and confidence to reintegrate into normal society.
The program requires PHAs to partner locally with Department of Labor Workforce Development Boards and American Jobs Centers. Additionally, Jobs Plus grantees are required to demonstrate a 25 percent match from organizations in the area and community partners, providing wrap-around supportive services to improve employment and earnings outcomes. Cross-agency partnerships are essential to changing the economic prospects of public housing residents and years of experience has shown the program is unsuccessful without it. Perhaps your nonprofit, church or oranization is central to the changes necessary for the lives of the individuals in these areas.