Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families


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 Jobs-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.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

MDRC carefully tested Jobs-Plus in six cities and found that where the components were fully implemented, the program produced sustained positive effects on residents’ earnings. More than 5,000 residents were involved in the original study. Since then, MDRC has produced over 20 reports on Jobs-Plus as it was originally developed and as it has evolved over time:

  • Jobs-Plus was initially evaluated through a comprehensive impact study, which determined the feasibility and effectiveness of the model in multiple contexts.

  • For its replication through the Social Innovation Fund in the Bronx, New York, and San Antonio, Texas, MDRC conducted an implementation study that offered analyses of program experiences and costs.

  • For its expansion in New York City, MDRC leads technical assistance efforts.

  • Finally, HUD recently launched Jobs-Plus in nine locations throughout the country. MDRC and researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are conducting a process study to examine this effort’s early outcomes and costs.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

In the original demonstration, seven public housing developments in six cities across the nation operated the Jobs-Plus program. Other public housing developments in these same cities served as comparison developments. The allocation of program and comparison developments within each city was determined through random assignment. In addition to records provided by the public housing agencies, the evaluation of the effectiveness of Jobs-Plus used long-term trend data derived from administrative records on public housing residents’ employment and earnings and their receipt of welfare. For its expansion through the Social Innovation Fund, the experiences of implementers in the Bronx, New York, and San Antonio, Texas, were analyzed through field research and extensive review of records. For HUD’s 2015 replication of Jobs-Plus, field research, practitioner management information systems, and administrative records will be examined.