Housing Opportunities and Services Together

Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST) is an effort to test strategies that use housing as a platform for services to improve the life chances of vulnerable youth and adults.

The demonstration project grew out of Urban Institute research on government-driven attempts to help improve the lives of families living in the most distressed public housing in the United States. These attempts have typically focused on dismantling dangerous, unsafe housing, replacing it with new, mixed-income housing, and relocating many residents with vouchers. But when moving is not an option, what happens to families left in place? Are physical housing upgrades enough to address the risks associated with concentrated poverty?

Our research shows that troubles related to economic hardship, underemployment, low education, fear, violence, substance abuse, inequality, and discrimination still challenge families even when their housing quality and safety improves. The critical question then becomes: beyond improving families' living conditions, can a housing-based intervention significantly change the socio-economic trajectory for families and communities?

HOST is designed to address this core question, exploring the potential of using housing as a platform for a two-generation, intensive, and carefully targeted intervention to effect fundamental change. 

Urban has worked with housing authorities and service providers in four cities to integrate the two-generation, place-based HOST model. We are always looking for new partners interested in testing or contributing to our model. For more information, please click here

HOST is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the  Langeloth Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Open Society Foundations, the Paul Allen Family Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In 2010, the Urban Institute launched the one-year planning phase for the Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) Demonstration, an effort to test two-generation strategies to improve the life chances of vulnerable youth and adults in public and subsidized housing. Over three years, housing authorities in Portland, Oregon, and Chicago, Illinois, adopted these strategies. At the end of the demonstration, Urban interviewed all the program staff to gather their reflections. This brief synthesizes these insights to provide practitioners guidance on what it takes to implement an effective, truly integrated two-generation model.

Making a Two-Generation Model Work in the Real World

The Urban Institute HOST team developed a tool we call a Data Walk as a means of sharing data and research findings with stakeholders. A Data Walk focuses on data sharing as the platform for collaboration and can be used whether or not the community has been engaged from the beginning. A Data Walk has several objectives: to share key data and findings with community residents and program participants; to ensure a more robust analysis and understanding of the data; to help inform better programming and policies to address both the strengths and the needs of a particular community or population; and to inspire individual and collective action among community agents.

Data Walks: An Innovative Way to Share Data with Communities