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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Holzer, Harry; Popham, Amelia; Elliott, Mark; Rolston, Howard; Weiss, Micheal
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2018

    These PowerPoints are from the 2018 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS). Improving low-income students’ college completion rates is one critical means to increasing economic mobility and reducing inequality. This panel presented findings from four randomized trials demonstrating that it is possible to achieve large gains in college completion rates. The presentations also highlighted the value of combining multiple sources of high-quality data with strong research designs for causal analysis. Amelia Popham (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session, and Harry Holzer (Georgetown University) served as a discussant. Various methodologies were used across the presentations. (Presenter introduction)

    These PowerPoints are from the 2018 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS). Improving low-income students’ college completion rates is one critical means to increasing economic mobility and reducing inequality. This panel presented findings from four randomized trials demonstrating that it is possible to achieve large gains in college completion rates. The presentations also highlighted the value of combining multiple sources of high-quality data with strong research designs for causal analysis. Amelia Popham (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session, and Harry Holzer (Georgetown University) served as a discussant. Various methodologies were used across the presentations. (Presenter introduction)

  • Individual Author: Riccio, James; Deitch, Victoria; Verma, Nandita
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    The purpose of the Rent Reform Demonstration is to test an alternative to the current rent-setting system for families using housing choice vouchers (HCV). The goals of the alternative rent-setting model now being tested are to incentivize employment and reduce the complexity and burden (and, thus, the cost) of administering the rent policy, while not causing unnecessary hardship for HCV households. The study team, PHAs, and HUD collaboratively designed the alternative rent model that is being tested at four local Moving to Work (MTW) public housing agencies (PHAs) sites with 6,600 participating HCV assisted households using a rigorous random assignment design. The four participating PHAs are the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Authority, Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Authority. This report provides a detailed explanation of the alternative rent model, a description of the demonstration implementation, and an outline of the preliminary baseline information and survey data that has already been gathered from the...

    The purpose of the Rent Reform Demonstration is to test an alternative to the current rent-setting system for families using housing choice vouchers (HCV). The goals of the alternative rent-setting model now being tested are to incentivize employment and reduce the complexity and burden (and, thus, the cost) of administering the rent policy, while not causing unnecessary hardship for HCV households. The study team, PHAs, and HUD collaboratively designed the alternative rent model that is being tested at four local Moving to Work (MTW) public housing agencies (PHAs) sites with 6,600 participating HCV assisted households using a rigorous random assignment design. The four participating PHAs are the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Authority, Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Authority. This report provides a detailed explanation of the alternative rent model, a description of the demonstration implementation, and an outline of the preliminary baseline information and survey data that has already been gathered from the assisted families participating in the study. Future reports will assess the impact of the alternative rent model at 12 and 36 months after random assignment on employment, earnings, and hardship for the study sample and on administrative efficiencies for the PHA, provide a process evaluation of the demonstration implementation, and analyze the cost effectiveness of the new rent policy compared to the existing rent policy. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    This report is a three-year evaluation of the Financial Empowerment Center initiative's replication in 5 cities (Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA and San Antonio, TX). Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service. The evaluation draws on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across these first 5 city replication partners, and provides additional evidence of the program's success. (Author introduction)

    This report is a three-year evaluation of the Financial Empowerment Center initiative's replication in 5 cities (Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA and San Antonio, TX). Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service. The evaluation draws on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across these first 5 city replication partners, and provides additional evidence of the program's success. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Greenberg, David M. ; Aceves, Aurelia De La Rosa; Quiroz-Becerra, M. Victoria; Greenberg, David H. ; Oppenheim, Ari
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2015

    The Jobs-Plus Public Housing Revitalization Initiative (1998-2003) was designed to raise and sustain the employment and earnings of residents of public housing developments. It had three parts: (1) employment services offered at on-site job centers, (2) changes in rent rules that provide financial incentives to work, and (3) community support for work through neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. The initiative was subject to a rigorous evaluation, which found that where implemented fully, Jobs-Plus boosted residents’ annual earnings by 16 percent, or $1,300 per year, an effect that endured seven years without abating. This report investigates how Jobs-Plus was replicated in more contemporary settings, analyzing the early implementation experiences of a community-based provider in the Bronx and the San Antonio Housing Authority in Texas, both funded by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) of the Corporation for National and Community Service. (Author abstract)

    The Jobs-Plus Public Housing Revitalization Initiative (1998-2003) was designed to raise and sustain the employment and earnings of residents of public housing developments. It had three parts: (1) employment services offered at on-site job centers, (2) changes in rent rules that provide financial incentives to work, and (3) community support for work through neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. The initiative was subject to a rigorous evaluation, which found that where implemented fully, Jobs-Plus boosted residents’ annual earnings by 16 percent, or $1,300 per year, an effect that endured seven years without abating. This report investigates how Jobs-Plus was replicated in more contemporary settings, analyzing the early implementation experiences of a community-based provider in the Bronx and the San Antonio Housing Authority in Texas, both funded by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) of the Corporation for National and Community Service. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Azurdia, Gilda; Freedman, Stephen; Hamilton, Gayle; Schultz, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Many people do not save enough money to help them manage sudden losses of income or sudden increases in expenditures. Faced with the need to raise cash immediately, they often resort to alternative, high-interest sources of credit, such as payday loans and credit cards, that may trap them in a costly cycle of debt. Currently, few programs help low- and moderate-income individuals save for emergencies, and studies of the effects of such unrestricted, short-term savings programs are rare. 

    What would happen if low- and moderate-income individuals were offered an incen­tive to save, coupled with a convenient opportunity to take advantage of the in­centive? To find out, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) developed the SaveUSA program, a tax-time matched savings program, which is being replicated in additional sites by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and OFE. SaveUSA focuses on tax-time savings be­cause tax refunds, supported by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits, typically...

    Many people do not save enough money to help them manage sudden losses of income or sudden increases in expenditures. Faced with the need to raise cash immediately, they often resort to alternative, high-interest sources of credit, such as payday loans and credit cards, that may trap them in a costly cycle of debt. Currently, few programs help low- and moderate-income individuals save for emergencies, and studies of the effects of such unrestricted, short-term savings programs are rare. 

    What would happen if low- and moderate-income individuals were offered an incen­tive to save, coupled with a convenient opportunity to take advantage of the in­centive? To find out, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) developed the SaveUSA program, a tax-time matched savings program, which is being replicated in additional sites by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and OFE. SaveUSA focuses on tax-time savings be­cause tax refunds, supported by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits, typically constitute the largest source of cash that low- and moderate-income individuals receive at any one time. SaveUSA encourages eligible tax filers to deposit a portion of their tax refund directly into a matched savings account that they can later use to pay for unexpected or emergency expenses or for any other purpose. 

    Does this strategy work? To find out, MDRC is conducting a randomized control trial to test the effects of SaveUSA on a variety of outcomes. The evaluation will show whether short-term incentivized savings can lead to longer-term savings habits, reduce material hardships, and improve the overall financial well-being of participants. If the results are positive, they will support ongoing efforts to implement similar savings incentives, such as a current policy proposal to embed a “Financial Security Credit” in the federal tax code. 

    What Is the SaveUSA Program?

    SaveUSA replicates a program called $aveNYC that was piloted in New York City between 2008 and 2011. During 2009 and 2010, $aveNYC’s primary years of operation, the program enrolled an average of 1,255 tax filers per year. Over 90 percent of those enrollees deposited tax refund dollars in their $aveNYC savings account and nearly three-quarters of enrollees (or 80 percent of depositors) maintained their deposits for about a year and received the savings match. A study of $aveNYC conducted by the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina found that when they entered the program, 18 percent of $aveNYC par­ticipants had no bank account and 26 percent reported having no savings. 

    The SaveUSA program was operated during the tax seasons of 2011 through 2013. It builds on the free tax-preparation services provided by participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) organizations in four cities: New York City, Tulsa, Newark, and San Antonio. SaveUSA offers both single filers and couples who file jointly the opportunity to open a SaveUSA account at a local financial institution by directly deposit­ing a portion of their tax refund into a special savings account. Participants earn a matching incentive payment if they leave their savings untouched for about one year. 

    To be eligible for the SaveUSA program, tax filers must be at least 18 years old and meet certain income requirements ($50,000 or less for filers with dependents and $25,000 or less for filers without dependents). When preparing their tax returns, SaveUSA participants instruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state taxing agency to deposit at least $200 from their tax refund directly into a special savings ac­count. Participants also pledge to keep a certain amount of their initial deposit, from $200 to $1,000, in the account for approximately one year. Participants who fulfill this pledge receive a 50 percent savings match, up to $500. 

    Account holders whose balances drop below their pledge amounts at any time during the follow-up year lose their eligibility for a match, even if they subsequently replace the funds. They incur no further penalty for withdrawing the funds, however. 

    During the next tax season, all account holders who have their taxes prepared at a participat­ing VITA site — those who end up qualifying for a match and those who do not — may again deposit tax refund dollars directly into their SaveUSA accounts and become eligible to receive another 50 percent match. 

    This policy brief offers early implementation findings, including recruitment and account enrollment results, from MDRC’s evaluation of SaveUSA. (author abstract)

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