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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: Neumark, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Poverty remains a persistent problem in many areas in the United States. Existing place-based policies—especially enterprise zones—have generally failed to provide benefits to the least advantaged. Drawing on lessons from the often-negative findings on effects of past place-based policies, but preserving the potential advantage of policies that try to improve economic outcomes in specific areas, I propose a new place-based policy—Rebuilding Communities Job Subsidies, or RCJS—to encourage job and income growth in areas of economic disadvantage. RCJS targets neighborhoods classified as extremely poor, and low-income workers in those neighborhoods, with a period of fully subsidized jobs to build skills and improve and revitalize areas of extreme poverty, to be followed by partially subsidized private sector jobs. (Author abstract). 

    Poverty remains a persistent problem in many areas in the United States. Existing place-based policies—especially enterprise zones—have generally failed to provide benefits to the least advantaged. Drawing on lessons from the often-negative findings on effects of past place-based policies, but preserving the potential advantage of policies that try to improve economic outcomes in specific areas, I propose a new place-based policy—Rebuilding Communities Job Subsidies, or RCJS—to encourage job and income growth in areas of economic disadvantage. RCJS targets neighborhoods classified as extremely poor, and low-income workers in those neighborhoods, with a period of fully subsidized jobs to build skills and improve and revitalize areas of extreme poverty, to be followed by partially subsidized private sector jobs. (Author abstract). 

  • Individual Author: Molina, Frieda; Howard, Craig
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Traditional employment programs have tried to address poverty by focusing on efforts that assist individuals. The Neighborhood Jobs Initiative (NJI) took a different approach. It sought to alleviate concentrated poverty by raising employment levels of entire neighborhoods to match the level prevailing in their metropolitan regions. NJI developers hypothesized that such concentrated efforts, if successful, would gradually transform low-income communities, representing a new approach to neighborhood revitalization. Community organizations with strong ties to neighborhood residents were engaged to lead these efforts. Each was charged with responsibility for identifying ambitious and concrete employment targets and mobilizing public and private partners to reach the targeted outcomes.

    Drawing upon the experiences of the lead community organizations during the initiative’s implementation phase, this third and final NJI report begins to answer the overarching questions first posed by MDRC and its funding partners: Is it possible to realize large employment outcomes in targeted...

    Traditional employment programs have tried to address poverty by focusing on efforts that assist individuals. The Neighborhood Jobs Initiative (NJI) took a different approach. It sought to alleviate concentrated poverty by raising employment levels of entire neighborhoods to match the level prevailing in their metropolitan regions. NJI developers hypothesized that such concentrated efforts, if successful, would gradually transform low-income communities, representing a new approach to neighborhood revitalization. Community organizations with strong ties to neighborhood residents were engaged to lead these efforts. Each was charged with responsibility for identifying ambitious and concrete employment targets and mobilizing public and private partners to reach the targeted outcomes.

    Drawing upon the experiences of the lead community organizations during the initiative’s implementation phase, this third and final NJI report begins to answer the overarching questions first posed by MDRC and its funding partners: Is it possible to realize large employment outcomes in targeted communities? Are community-based organizations (CBO) effective vehicles for mobilizing, brokering, and delivering employment programs to underemployed and unemployed residents of low-income communities? What programmatic elements appear to contribute to the goal of raising employment levels in targeted communities?

    Key Findings

    • Efforts to quantify precisely what was meant by “large employment outcomes” represented a turning point in the initiative and served as a catalyst for bringing partners to the table. Early attempts to implement the vision of NJI faltered when the sites used abstract goals related to the nature and level of expected employment gains. The lead CBOs were unable to convey to partners what scale of effort would be required to realize large outcomes, and they were unable to gauge progress along the way. Once the employment targets were identified and the partners understood and committed to these targets, it became easier for the CBOs to mobilize the levels of effort needed to reach a larger scale of employment outcomes.

    • To succeed in reaching community-level employment targets, NJI required an extraordinary effort by the CBOs and their partners. NJI required dedicated organizational, human, and financial resources to be successful. Distinct staff capacities were required at different stages of the initiative, and the lead organization had to be willing to give NJI priority over its other activities and be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of senior staff’s time to the effort.

    • CBOs with strong neighborhood connections are ideally suited for mobilizing residents and partners to achieve positive programmatic advantages. The quality of CBO relationships with neighborhood residents and knowledge of their employment barriers contributed to the type, quality, and accessibility of employment services offered, thereby improving early progress in reaching their employment targets.

    • The scale of operations achieved by NJI sites suggests that it is possible to raise employment rates in low-income neighborhoods. The initiative ended after just two years of program implementation, and none of the sites had achieved its five-year saturation targets within the time allocated. But early achievements suggest that a number of sites were on a trajectory to realize large outcomes, thereby changing the employment profiles of their respective communities.

    • A neighborhood-focused employment saturation strategy is not appropriate for all low income neighborhoods. The NJI experience suggests that more stable neighborhoods with strong local identities experience the greatest benefit from a place-based employment approach like NJI..
    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Martinez, John
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Public housing residents are commonly thought to be harder to employ than other low-income working-age populations, but detailed evidence on their actual employment experiences and difficulties is scarce. The dearth of information can hinder efforts by policymakers and administrators to reduce the high rates of poverty, joblessness, and related social problems found in many public housing developments across the country.

    This report helps to address the information gap by analyzing data from a special survey of residents in eight public housing developments (in seven cities) with customarily high rates of joblessness and reliance on welfare. These developments have been part of the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment and quality-of-life outcomes. The survey, undertaken to collect baseline data about the communities and their residents just prior to the start of the Jobs-Plus program, sheds important light on how closely...

    Public housing residents are commonly thought to be harder to employ than other low-income working-age populations, but detailed evidence on their actual employment experiences and difficulties is scarce. The dearth of information can hinder efforts by policymakers and administrators to reduce the high rates of poverty, joblessness, and related social problems found in many public housing developments across the country.

    This report helps to address the information gap by analyzing data from a special survey of residents in eight public housing developments (in seven cities) with customarily high rates of joblessness and reliance on welfare. These developments have been part of the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment and quality-of-life outcomes. The survey, undertaken to collect baseline data about the communities and their residents just prior to the start of the Jobs-Plus program, sheds important light on how closely residents were already connected to the labor market, what kinds of jobs they obtained, and why some residents worked or looked for work less than other residents.

    Key Findings

    • The survey of residents revealed a more extensive and varied connection to the labor market than had been expected, given the very low rates of employment that characterized the public housing developments in the years prior to their selection for Jobs-Plus in the mid-1990s. Slightly more than 90 percent had worked at some point in their lives, and a majority were either currently employed or searching for work at the time of the survey.
    • Many residents who worked did so only part time, and the majority were employed in low-wage jobs paying less than $7.75 per hour and offering no fringe benefits.
    • Health status was the factor most clearly associated with residents’ engagement in the labor market. Survey respondents who described themselves as having health problems were less likely than others to have had recent work experience or to engage in job search activities.
    • Even with extensive data, it is difficult to create statistical profiles that accurately differentiate survey respondents who can be characterized as easier to employ from those who are harder to employ. Across a wide range of measures — including demographic characteristics, incidence of domestic violence, and residents’ social networks — no consistent patterns emerged to distinguish which residents were most actively and least actively involved in the labor market.

    Building on these new insights into public housing residents’ relationship to the labor market, future studies will explore how financial incentives, employment services, and the reinforcement of community supports for work can increase residents’ success in the labor market. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Morris, Pamela; Jones, Stephanie; Smith, Jared
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    This paper begins to fill the information gap by capitalizing on the unique opportunity provided by the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment status. Using data on nearly 1,500 children of public housing residents collected before the implementation of Jobs-Plus, the paper examines the well-being of children living in public housing developments and explores whether characteristics of their parents and the communities are associated with differences in the children’s outcomes.

    Key Findings

    On some, but not all, measures of school and behavioral outcomes, a substantial proportion of children living in public housing exhibited negative outcomes. As expected, older children and boys were at greater risk than younger children and girls.

    When compared with data on other children receiving welfare in selected states, children in the Jobs-Plus developments were shown to be at...

    This paper begins to fill the information gap by capitalizing on the unique opportunity provided by the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment status. Using data on nearly 1,500 children of public housing residents collected before the implementation of Jobs-Plus, the paper examines the well-being of children living in public housing developments and explores whether characteristics of their parents and the communities are associated with differences in the children’s outcomes.

    Key Findings

    On some, but not all, measures of school and behavioral outcomes, a substantial proportion of children living in public housing exhibited negative outcomes. As expected, older children and boys were at greater risk than younger children and girls.

    When compared with data on other children receiving welfare in selected states, children in the Jobs-Plus developments were shown to be at only slightly greater risk of experiencing negative school and behavioral outcomes.

    Few associations were found between measures of the Jobs-Plus children’s well-being and their parents’ employment or welfare status.

    Parents’ mental health and experience with domestic abuse were associated with negative aspects of children’s schooling and behavior. However, contextual factors of the housing developments, such as the proportion of parents who had jobs, were not related to children’s outcomes.

    The data reported here provide a first look at the children in the Jobs-Plus demonstration communities. Further examination of the effects of the Jobs-Plus demonstration on child and adolescent development is planned as part of the evaluation project. This work will provide crucial information to our understanding of how neighborhood change, in combination with changes occurring within individual families, may affect the well-being of children in public housing. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kato, Linda Yuriko; Riccio, James A.; Dodge, Jennifer
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    To combat joblessness and poverty in low-income communities, multiple organizations must work together with local residents. But productive collaboration on such complex issues is notoriously difficult to create and sustain, partly because partners often have different priorities and agendas. Learning from real-world experiences is critical if this strategy is to work.

    This report provides a detailed look at a major current collaborative effort: the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (or Jobs-Plus). It shows how the seven cities in this national demonstration have attempted to build inclusive and productive partnerships to design, fund, and operate an ambitious, place-based employment initiative for residents of selected public housing developments. The lessons drawn have important practical implications for a wide range of community-building and other initiatives.

    Jobs-Plus seeks to boost employment among all working-age residents through employment and training services, financial work...

    To combat joblessness and poverty in low-income communities, multiple organizations must work together with local residents. But productive collaboration on such complex issues is notoriously difficult to create and sustain, partly because partners often have different priorities and agendas. Learning from real-world experiences is critical if this strategy is to work.

    This report provides a detailed look at a major current collaborative effort: the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (or Jobs-Plus). It shows how the seven cities in this national demonstration have attempted to build inclusive and productive partnerships to design, fund, and operate an ambitious, place-based employment initiative for residents of selected public housing developments. The lessons drawn have important practical implications for a wide range of community-building and other initiatives.

    Jobs-Plus seeks to boost employment among all working-age residents through employment and training services, financial work incentives (especially by limiting rent increases for employed residents), neighbor-to-neighbor outreach, and other efforts to promote and support work. In each of the participating cities, selected in 1997, the partners have included the public housing authority, the welfare department, local workforce development agencies, resident leaders, and other local organizations. The chosen cities were Baltimore, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Dayton, Los Angeles, St. Paul, and Seattle. Cleveland and Seattle are no longer in the demonstration, but Seattle is still operating its Jobs-Plus program.

    Among their key challenges and accomplishments to date are:

    Collaborative governance and management. The collaboratives' experiences point to the value of: vesting governing authority in a core group of active partners while keeping the larger group in the dialogue in other ways; establishing explicit lines of authority between the governing partners and program staff; devising better mechanisms for holding staff - and partners - accountable; and distinguishing funding and management of the collaborative from that of the program.

    Collaboration in service delivery. Some sites have made considerable progress in building an integrated network of services with close coordination among frontline staff. Such coordination is critical in order to serve and monitor residents effectively across a geographically dispersed network of providers. Toward this end, agencies have modified staff training procedures and expanded their interagency data-sharing efforts. Moreover, some sites have changed broader agency policies as a result of their participation in the collaboratives. Most welfare agencies, for instance, have allowed residents to meet their welfare-to-work obligations by participating in Jobs-Plus.

    Housing authority adaptations. Jobs-Plus challenged housing authorities' nearly exclusive focus on housing management and traditional isolation from the activities of welfare and workforce development agencies. Examples of important housing authority adaptations include efforts to: improve internal coordination (e.g., to implement the rent incentives or link employment assistance to efforts to head off evictions); "fast track" internal decisionmaking for Jobs-Plus; transfer Jobs-Plus funds to independent agencies to address procurement constraints; and permit other partners influence over key hiring decisions, even for staff on the housing authority's payroll.

    Residents' involvement. Residents have had a significant influence in shaping the Jobs-Plus programs, despite sometimes tense relationships between residents and housing authorities. Some sites have succeeded in reaching beyond traditional leaders in building the technical capacity of residents to assume specific leadership and staff roles in the program.  (author abstract)

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