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.
A Better Life is an economic mobility program operating in four housing authorities in Massachusetts. This brief discusses how the program has shifted to meet residents’ dramatically different needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practical Advice from Richard Guare and Colin Guare
This Issue Focus offers guidance to social service programs seeking to help participants progress toward their goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Techniques are described for alleviating social isolation, communicating remotely, setting and achieving goals, getting medication, assessing workplace safety, applying for public benefits, working from home, and managing grief.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the nation’s awareness of the critical role that low-wage workers — cashiers, nursing assistants, delivery people — play in our lives. MDRC’s Cynthia Miller summarizes research about how expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit can effectively supplement their earnings and lead to other positive benefits for them and their families.
Introducing the MyGoals Demonstration
The MyGoals for Employment Success demonstration uses executive skills coaching to help participants with emotional control, stress tolerance, time management, organization, flexibility, and persistence, which are vital to success in the workplace. Research showing that poverty causes stress and impedes these skills informs the approach of this pilot program.
Evaluating the Effects of Santa Clara County Housing Authority’s Rent Reform
Amid a budget crunch, the Santa Clara Housing Authority reduced its subsidies to low-income renters in 2013. This retrospective study shows that the decrease did not affect average employment and earnings over the next four years, as some economic theories might have predicted.
Interim Findings from the Paycheck Plus Demonstration in Atlanta
The Earned Income Tax Credit reduces poverty for many low-income families but does little for workers without dependent children. Paycheck Plus, being tested in New York City and Atlanta, offers an expanded credit to this population. This report presents its two-year impacts on employment, earnings, and income in Atlanta.
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.
This report presents 27- to 30-month impacts of an alternative rent policy for housing voucher recipients in four locations. Voucher program tenure and monthly housing subsidies increased for recipients, and housing agencies’ administrative burdens decreased. Average earnings did not rise overall, but earnings increased in two locations and employment increased in one.