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The Limits of Relocation: Employment and Family Well-Being among Former Madden/Wells Residents

CHA Families and the Plan for Transformation Series

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Document date: August 11, 2010
Released online: August 11, 2010

Abstract

Despite many gains in quality of life standards, the HOPE VI program and related efforts have been less successful in helping residents move toward self-sufficiency. In recent years, the CHA has increased its efforts to promote self-sufficiency for its residents, through both its FamilyWorks case management services and Opportunity Chicago, whose goal is to connect CHA residents to the labor force.

In this brief, we explore what has happened to working-age Madden/Wells respondents' economic status since 2009, especially their rates of employment and economic security. Our analysis indicates that although employment rates have not increased, Madden/Wells respondents have experienced some gains in economic well-being. However, even with these gains, respondents continue to face considerable economic hardship.


The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full report in PDF format. Part of the CHA Families and the Plan for Transformation brief series.

Introduction

The Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA) Plan for Transformation has brought about substantial improvements in quality of life for most residents. The HOPE VI Panel Study showed that by 2005, four years after relocation began, Madden/Wells respondents who had relocated with vouchers or to mixed-income housing reported living in better housing and safer neighborhoods (Popkin 2010). In 2009, nearly all former residents reported such improvements (Buron and Popkin 2010a, b; Price and Popkin 2010). But despite these positive changes, the HOPE VI program and the CHA's efforts have been less successful in helping residents move toward self-sufficiency. Employment rates have proved intransigent, holding steady from the baseline study in 2001 through the third round of data collection in 2005. As we found in 2005 (Levy and Woolley 2007), the overall employment rate masks considerable cycling, as people move into and out of jobs. We have documented several barriers to employment that make it challenging for some people to find or to keep a job, particularly poor health.

In recent years, the CHA has increased its efforts to promote self-sufficiency for its residents, through both its FamilyWorks case management services and Opportunity Chicago, whose goal is to connect CHA residents to the labor force.1 In its boldest move, the agency introduced a work requirement for all residents of its traditional public housing properties in January 2009, requiring that every adult resident of a public housing unit (age 18 to 61) must work no less than 15 hours a week or otherwise be engaged in activities that lead to employment, such as volunteering or enrolling in classes. As of January 1, 2010, the requirement increased to 20 hours a week. The requirement for residents living in mixed-income developments is set higher: heads of households must work a minimum of 30 hours a week; all other adult residents must work at least 30 hours a week or engage in activities that lead to employment.2

With the CHA's increased emphasis on employment and self-sufficiency since 2005, we might expect to see improved employment rates and self-sufficiency in 2009&mdash:at least for the portion of our sample living in public housing and mixed-income communities. The major economic downturn, however, might have tempered potential gains. In this brief, we explore what has happened to working-age Madden/Wells respondents' economic status since 2009, especially their rates of employment and economic security. Our analysis indicates that although employment rates have not increased, Madden/Wells respondents have experienced some gains in economic well-being. However, even with these gains, respondents continue to face considerable economic hardship.

(End of excerpt. The full report is available in PDF format.)



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Cities and Neighborhoods | Housing


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