Public housing developments are among the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, many public housing residents face obstacles to employment even beyond those normally experienced by other low-income people. To address this problem, Jobs-Plus was conceived in the mid-1990s by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Rockefeller Foundation, and MDRC. First put into practice in six cities from 1998 to 2003, it was replicated through the Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2011 in the Bronx, New York, and San Antonio, Texas. The City of New York expanded Job-Plus to seven additional locations in 2013, and in 2015, HUD launched the program in nine locations across the country. MDRC has been involved in the operation or evaluation of every generation of Jobs-Plus.
Because residents face complex challenges, the program takes a multipronged approach to helping them increase their employment and earnings. It offers: (1) employment services at on-site job centers in the housing developments, (2) changes in rent rules that provide a greater financial incentive to work, and (3) community support for work, through which important information about work-related opportunities is spread through neighbor-to-neighbor outreach and other social networking efforts. The program targets all working-age residents, attempting to “saturate” the housing developments with information, services, and incentives to support work.