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Supporting Vulnerable Public Housing Families: An Evaluation of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration

The Supporting Vulnerable Public Housing Families policy briefs present findings from the evaluation of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration, an innovative effort to test the feasibility of using public and assisted housing as a platform for providing services to vulnerable families.

The Demonstration involved a unique partnership of city agencies, researchers, social service providers, and private foundations, including the Urban Institute, the Chicago Housing Authority, Heartland Human Care Services, and Housing Choice Partners, The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration has produced a successful model for providing wraparound services to residents in public and assisted housing settings. The briefs in this series describe service implementation and costs, along with participant outcomes across four domains: employment, health, housing and relocation, and children and youth.

An Overview of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration
Susan J. Popkin, Brett Theodos, Liza Getsinger, and Joe Parilla

The Supporting Vulnerable Public Housing Families policy briefs present findings from the evaluation of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration, an innovative effort to test the feasibility of using public and assisted housing as a platform for providing services to vulnerable families. The Demonstration involved a unique partnership of city agencies, researchers, social service providers, and private foundations, including the Urban Institute, the Chicago Housing Authority, Heartland Human Care Services, and Housing Choice Partners. The briefs in this series describe service implementation and costs, along with participant outcomes across four domains: employment, health, housing and relocation, and children and youth.

A New Model for Integrating Housing and Services
Susan J. Popkin, Brett Theodos, Liza Getsinger, and Joe Parilla

The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration provided vulnerable public housing residents from two Chicago Housing Authority developments with intensive case management services, transitional jobs, financial literacy training, and relocation counseling. The Demonstration was remarkably successful in implementing a wraparound service model. The lead service provider kept residents highly engaged even as they relocated with vouchers or to mixed-income housing. Participants perceived improvements in service quality and delivery, and providers felt more effective and engaged. The additional costs for the intensive services were modest, suggesting that it would be feasible to take a carefully targeted intensive service model to scale.

Tackling the Biggest Challenge: Intensive Case Management and CHA Residents’ Health
Susan J. Popkin and Liza Getsinger

The Urban Institute’s HOPE VI Panel Study highlighted the health crisis hidden in distressed public housing developments in Chicago and in other communities across the nation. As a result of the HOPE VI research, one key goal of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration was to improve participants’ mental and physical health. This brief reviews the findings from the Demonstration, considers possible explanations for differences from the Panel Study, and discusses the implications for policy and practice. Participants’ health did not deteriorate over time, and their anxiety levels improved. Unfortunately, rates of chronic illness and mortality remain extremely high.

Moving "Hard to House" Residents to Work: The Role of Intensive Case Management
Joe Parilla and Brett Theodos

The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration was an innovative effort to test the feasibility of providing wraparound supportive services, including work supports, for vulnerable public housing families. This brief explores the employment experiences of Demonstration participants. Surprisingly, despite an extremely difficult labor market, employment increased. Further, the intensive Transitional Jobs program appears to have contributed to these employment gains. Yet, despite increases in employment, the economic situation for most Chicago Housing Authority families remains tenuous. For those who remained unemployed, the Demonstration’s services failed to address a multitude of personal and structural barriers to work.

Relocating Vulnerable Public Housing Families
Brett Theodos and Joe Parilla

The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration was an innovative effort to improve the circumstances and life chances of CHA’s most vulnerable families, with the goal of ensuring stable housing in better conditions. This brief explores relocation outcomes for Demonstration participants, including their experiences with relocation services. Generally, participants live in much better housing in neighborhoods where they feel safer. However, most still live in public housing, and their new neighborhoods are still poor, racially segregated, and crime ridden. To better serve vulnerable families, relocation counseling needs to be intensive, long term, and integrated with other services.

Reaching the Next Generation: The Crisis for CHA's Youth
Liza Getsinger and Susan J. Popkin

By the late 1990s, the Chicago Housing Authority’s troubled developments were home to thousands of vulnerable residents, many of them children. The hypothesis of the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration was that using a family-focused approach would benefit both children and parents. While the Demonstration successfully engaged adults, there is no evidence that these benefits produced better outcomes for children and youth. Instead, the findings paint a portrait of children in crisis. This brief profiles these vulnerable children and suggests strategies for building on the successes of the Demonstration to improve the life chances of CHA’s children and youth.


Read more at the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration project page.