In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
How Place-Based Employment Programs like Jobs Plus Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Employment programs situated within public housing developments are facing multiple challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With routine operations disrupted by shelter-in-place orders, programs like Jobs Plus can find creative ways to keep their doors open and their clients engaged.
Ongoing Implementation Experiences
Households receiving federal rental subsidies struggle to become self-sufficient. Jobs Plus provides grants to public housing agencies to offer tenants employment-related services, rent-based work incentives, and community support for work. This report examines a second round of Jobs Plus implementation, including evolving program operations, challenges, resident participation, and technical assistance.
The Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS) combines MDRC’s decades of experience tackling social policy issues with insights from behavioral science. This graphic explains the CABS’s approach to solving problems.
Lessons from the BIAS Project
The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project launched an intervention in California to engage families in a welfare-to-work program and another intervention in New York to encourage low-income single adults without dependent children to attend a meeting about an earnings supplement program intended to provide an incentive to work.
The SIMPLER framework was developed for the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project ― the first major effort to apply behavioral insights to human services programs in the United States. SIMPLER summarizes several key behavioral concepts that can guide practitioners interested in using behavioral insights to enhance service delivery.
Highlights from the Jobs Plus Pilot Program Evaluation
Jobs Plus promotes employment among public housing residents through employment services, rent rule changes that provide incentives to work, and community support for work. Within the first 18 months, all nine public housing agencies in this evaluation had begun structuring their programs, building partnerships, and implementing the model’s core components.
The Change Capital Fund donor consortium invests in community groups to help expand their capacity to coordinate services in areas of persistent poverty. Using a variety of models, grantees are strengthening internal and external connections to meet the housing, education, and employment needs of local residents.
Jobs-Plus – a “place-based,” workforce-development model proven to help public housing residents find employment – is about to be replicated across the country. This infographics depicts the program model, its effects on earnings, and the history of its development over the past 20 years.
Breaking Down Silos to Promote Economic Opportunity
The Change Capital Fund, a partnership of donors, invests in community groups to develop their capacity to coordinate services to meet the multiple needs of low-income families. As these groups work to overcome their tendency to specialize internally, their programs must be open to new ways of aligning their efforts.