Affordable Housing, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

Employment-Voucher Demonstration Program Has Mixed Results


MDRC analyzed the Opportunity NYC-Work Rewards demonstration project which used 3 different strategies to improve employment outcomes of housing voucher holders. Two of the strategies included participation in the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, which is a voluntary federal program that offers case management and job-related services and includes an asset building tool to help participants save money. The researchers looked at the effects of participating in FSS alone, FSS plus special work incentives (immediate cash incentives in addition to the longer-term incentive of the escrow account), and work incentives alone.

The FSS Program only reaches about 5% of all housing voucher holders so it was worthwhile to assess whether other programs might be more effective and reach more people. The report found that individuals who were employed at the beginning of the program actually saw a decrease in savings as opposed to those who were not employed at the beginning of the program, who actually saw a gain in savings over the course of the program. Those who were part of the FSS plus work incentives group saw the largest increase of savings out of all the groups.

With regards to employment rate and average earnings, participants of the incentive only program earned more and were more likely to work while in the program. Those who were part of the FSS only and FSS plus work incentives program did not see much change in their employment rates or average earnings. 

Click here to read the full report. “Working Toward Self-Sufficiency: Early Findings from a Program for Housing Voucher Recipients in New York City”


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