Social Housing and Employment: UK and US Innovations
(Housing and Community Development)
Tuesday, June 14, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Clement House, 7th Floor, Room 03 (London School of Economics)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Discussants: Laura Jackson, Cities and Local Growth Unit and Zainab Agha, Cities and Local Growth Unit
Panel Chairs: Alex Conway, Greater London Authority
Panel Organizers: James Riccio, MDRC
Research shows that social housing residents in the UK face considerable disadvantage in the labour market. Approximately half of social housing residents of working age are out of work. In addition, social residents are around half as likely to be looking for work as those in other tenures, and they face more disadvantages across a range of measures. But even allowing for these differences in characteristics, social housing residents are still less likely to be in work than other residents. Similar labour market impediments characterise tenants living in public housing or receiving housing subsidies in the US. In recent years, an increasing degree of policy attention in both countries has focused on labour market activation strategies tailored for subsidized tenants.
This panel will explore examples of promising innovations in both countries, with attention to existing rigorous evidence on effectiveness, and plans for deepening the evidence base, which remains fairly thin.
Paper #1 will discuss the expanding role of social landlords in moving beyond a narrow focus on the provision of housing toward finding ways of supporting their tenants into work and improving life outcomes. It will set out current examples of programmes being led by social landlords, working in partnership with welfare, employment, and local government services, to support disadvantaged residents into sustained employment.
Paper #2 will present plans to adapt the successful US Jobs-Plus employment initiative for public housing residents to the UK, and specifically the scope to do so in London and in the wider United Kingdom. The place-based intervention would combine on-site employment services with financial work incentives and the promotion of work-supporting social networks. The paper describes the Jobs-Plus model, the US evidence base, and how the model would be modified to fit in with the housing, labour market, and public services landscape in London and the UK.
Paper #3 will outline an evaluation design for assessing the impacts of Jobs-Plus in the UK on labour market outcomes and benefit receipt. Determining the effects of the programme is complicated by the place-based nature of the intervention. To address this evaluation challenge, the study will rely on an estate-level randomised control trial combined with a comparative interrupted time-series analysis. The paper will discuss the strengths and limitations of this design, which would have relevance also to impact assessments of other place-based interventions.
Paper #4 focuses attention on one element of Jobs-Plus and a number of other employment-interventions for subsidized tenants in the US: special financial work incentives. The paper will review lessons from past studies of work incentives for such tenants, and then present new findings on the labour market impacts of an approach tested in a NYC randomised trial. The NYC incentives were modelled after an incentives component initially tested in the UK Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) demonstration. The paper will consider lessons for future work incentive policies for subsidized tenants.