Public housing residents often have a particularly difficult time obtaining and retaining employment. By offering a child-care center, health clinic, computer learning center, financial planners, an employment specialist, and a welfare reform office all in the same building, the Family Resource Center makes it easier for residents to find and keep employment. The program is currently serving the sector of the low-income population that is hardest to employ. Have these important services available and easily accessible removes many of the obstacles these residents face, and significantly increases their chances of success.
The program was developed with the support of many local organizations. Key participants were the director and Resident Council of Hillside Terrace, the Boys and Girls Club, the Black Health Coalition, Maximum, Inc., the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Area Technical College. Hillside Terrace residents have been particularly instrumental in planning and running the Family Resource Center. Assistance was also received from HUD staff, who participated in the evaluation of the program at the initial funding stage, and contributed important input into determining how the program would work best. HUD staff continue to participate in regular planning meetings.
The program benefits the broader community around Hillside Terrace, who are now in close proximity to government agencies and no longer need to go elsewhere for important services. By drawing outsiders into the development, the Resource Center has been able to provide the public with a more positive image of public housing developments. The program has also used the significant print and broadcast media coverage it has received on events at the Center to change public attitudes, and the Resource Center staff believes that their relationship with the media has been crucial to effectively launching the program.
The success of the program has been tremendous. The proportion of residents receiving TANF benefits has fallen from 90 percent to 50 percent since the Resource Center first opened, and the proportion of working families increased from 17 percent to 55 percent. Hillside Terrace, once one of the least desirable public housing developments, is now nearly full as more and more individuals have requested to move there. The innovative program at Hillside Terrace has provided a means to both improve public attitudes toward public housing developments while at the same time empowering low-income residents and helping them to achieve self-sufficiency.
Content Archived: April 20, 2011