8: Jobs-Plus (America)
The Jobs-Plus programme was established in America in 1996 and is one of few initiatives looking at the long-term effects on participants. Beginning as a pilot in six cities, the aim was to increase the number of public housing residents moving into work.
The pilots consisted of three key parts. The first was employment-related services provided through the public housing organisations. This included help with job search, coaching to move closer to the labour market, vocational training, subsidised supported-work positions for those furthest from labour market and advice on moving into self-employment. Secondly, changes in rent rules were introduced that provided financial incentives for tenants to move into work. These included smaller increases in rent payments as earnings increased and ensuring residents were aware of other in work benefits they were entitled to claim. Thirdly, community support was provided. This involved recruiting a number of tenants to explain the programme to their neighbors and encourage them to use the Jobs-Plus services. Residents received payment or rent reduction in return for this.
An evaluation of the trial involving more than 5,000 participants was carried out by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Rockefeller Foundation and the education and social policy research organization Mdrc. The outcomes of public housing developments taking part in the trial were compared with similar developments in the same cities not participating in the programme. Tenants involved in the pilots earned an average of $1,141 more per year than residents in comparison developments. Participants were also found to continue to earn more even after the programme ended – of around $1,300 a year three years after the pilot ended.29 The evaluation also found that it was necessary to fully implement all three parts of the initiative. Those that failed to do this saw smaller increases in earning among tenants.
Based on this strong evaluation and long-term impact, the programme continues to receive funding and is being replicated in other cities, both in America and in other countries.30