FY 1998 - 2003 Strategic Plan
Strategic Objective #5

Provide empowerment and self­sufficiency opportunities to support low­income individuals and families as they make the transition from dependency to work.


The Department is working with community organizations, States, cities, and other Federal agencies to effectively implement this objective. The Department proposes an initial four-pronged action plan to begin implementing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996:

  • Creation and retention of jobs;

  • Using tenant-based rental assistance strategically to link welfare recipients to jobs through innovative uses of incremental housing assistance and regional counseling; and

  • Coordinate housing assistance with Welfare Reform efforts; and

  • Providing and leveraging services to help welfare recipients make the transition from dependency to work through expansion of the Bridges to Work initiative, funding for Public Housing Supportive Services, expansion of Neighborhood Networks learning centers in assisted housing and the Youthbuild program to provide access to education and job training.

HUD is in a unique position to assist in helping people move from welfare to work. Through public housing, Section 8, and CDBG target areas, HUD programs have a physical presence where the poor live. HUD programs provide flexible assistance capable of effecting different interventions that may be necessary to promote self-sufficiency. HUD can both provide the assistance needed to create and retain jobs and provide the training and other service that lower income individuals need to be able to take advantage of those jobs. Flexible formula grants, like CDBG, let communities take advantage of more restricted funding provided by other agencies. CDBG, for example, can fund local plans for promoting self-sufficiency. It can also fund services that may be needed to help people take advantage of opportunities provided through the Departments of Transportation and Labor. HUD, in fact, is working with other agencies to help promote self-sufficiency. For example, its JOBS Plus demonstration is jointly funded and closely coordinated with HHS. HUD's Bridges to Work demonstration features coordination with Transportation.


Creation and Retention of Jobs

Bringing jobs and job access to distressed communities requires working with other Federal agencies and contributes to the Administration's goal of making welfare reform work. The Department is working with community organizations, States, cities, and other Federal agencies to effectively implement the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by creating good jobs through our economic development programs and especially through implementation of Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968.

Targeting neighborhoods with high concentrations of poor families, including those on welfare, HUD's core economic development programs can be used to generate jobs that will be available to welfare recipients entering the work force. The programs summarized below will produce good jobs for those neighborhoods.

Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC) (Round II)

A key element in the strategy to produce suitable jobs in distressed areas and empower low- and moderate-income persons to take advantage of those jobs is the EZ/EC program. In December of 1994, the HUD Secretary announced the designation of 72 Urban EZ/ECs. For every dollar of EZ funds, $18 of private investment are leveraged. More than $2 billion in private investment has been made. Most of the investment ($1.7 billion) is targeted toward economic opportunities.

Each of the 72 Urban EZ/ECs developed performance benchmarks which provide a blueprint for an entrepreneurial way to distribute funds and to fulfill commitments. Each EZ or EC has compiled these benchmarks into a unique Strategic Plan for urban revitalization. The strategic plan is to monitor these zones and communities closely and to help ensure that progress proceeds in an orderly fashion. A database is being developed to keep track of progress in each EZ and EC. On March 3, 1997, Secretary Cuomo asked his Representatives to assume responsibility for supervising program management of the EZ/EC initiative in their regions. A number of them have already set up teams from the HUD Field Offices to oversee the management of the EZs and ECs.

HUD is promoting partnerships with private and community service providers who can help residents achieve self-sufficiency and has proposed an expansion of Empowerment Zones to help communities create more job opportunities. There are hundreds of activities funded and/or underway to promote human development and self-sufficiency in the 72 Urban Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities. A comprehensive list of these activities was contained in a recent report on every Zone or Community based on the first annual performance reporting.

Current strategy includes legislation to create another round of 20 EZs and 80 new ECs across the country. These new EZs and ECs would focus on moving residents from welfare and poverty to work.

CDBG, Economic Development Initiatives (EDI) and Section 108

Section 108 allows communities to leverage private funds for large-scale job creation and community development initiatives. EDI grants supplement these programs by providing grants for large-impact projects. EDI money may be used to capitalize innovative financial institutions and has already been used very successfully for this purpose. CPD will continue to improve the leverage of CPD programs by focusing job creation activities on the Section 108 loan guarantee along with the EDI grants.

CPD has sought to expand the use of the CDBG program for job creation activities. From 1993 to 1996, projects funded under the CDBG entitlement and non-entitlement programs will create an estimated 471,000 permanent jobs through economic development activities when these projects are completed. They will also create an estimate 472,000 other jobs, such as construction and service jobs.

The Consolidated Plan rule and a subsequent January 1997 notice calls for the creation of Neighborhood Revitalization areas. In these areas sources would be marshalled to facilitate a grantee's ability to engage in comprehensive community revitalization strategies in distressed neighborhoods. Waivers in CDBG programs are offered if proposed projects are located in such neighborhoods.

The job creation activities of Section 108/EDI and CDBG often include a nexus with manpower development program. Many of these activities were highlighted in the Houston conference on Best Practices. In Fall River, MA, Section 108 and CDBG float loans saved existing jobs and created new jobs in those distressed communities. For example, the Fall River Office of Economic Development coordinate with the Bristol County training Consortium (Jobs Training Partnership Act), to provide opportunities for connecting trained low to moderate income persons with new employment opportunities. In another effort, Jefferson County, MO, used a holistic job development strategy to create the Jefferson Riverport International Center (JRI). It included training and day care facilities available to employees of JRI, and a comprehensive public transportation link to JRI for low and moderate income persons in Jefferson County.

CDBG and HOME Funds

State and local governments use these formula block grant funds to assist new homebuyers through development subsidies and downpayment and closing cost assistance. Often through a state-wide network of local lenders, States provide downpayment grants making it possible for many low-income families to come to the settlement table. Cities, with a desire to stabilize their tax bases and increase the percentage of homeownership, use CDBG and HOME funds to construct or rehabilitate deteriorated units to increase the supply of standard housing for sale. The HOME Program since 1992 has assisted more than 75,000 new homebuyers.


The interagency Brownfields initiative, described elsewhere in this Plan, seeks to create job opportunities on contaminated sites in cities by cleaning up the sites and financing economic development activities after the sites are cleaned. Brownfields clean-up was identified as a Best Practice at a recent Houston conference. Louisville, KY, used CDBG funds to aide in the removal of contaminants from an area which did not have a grocery store. CDBG also funded a new supermarket on that site which employs 60 low and moderate income people. An EPA grant was also sought for devising other redevelopment strategies for the area.

Section 3

Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, as amended by the Housing Act of 1992, requires that economic opportunities generated by HUD financial assistance shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be given to low and very low-income persons. This applies to public housing programs and to programs for housing rehabilitation and construction and other public construction projects. It is a program that essentially links low-income and welfare recipients to jobs. It has already resulted in hundreds of jobs (temporary, seasonal and permanent) going to low-income persons. It has also helped eligible Section 3 Businesses to secure thousands of dollars in HUD contracts (i.e. businesses owned by Section 3 residents, those employing significant numbers of eligible Section 3 persons, or those willing to subcontract a significant percent of the total value of their HUD contracts to Section 3 resident-owned businesses).

Priority for training and employment is provided to low-income persons who are residents of public and assisted housing, residents of the neighborhood where the programs are being operated, participants in Youthbuild, and homeless persons. Priority in contracting is also given to businesses which offer opportunities to these classes for low-income persons. The Department will direct recipients of HUD funds to take Section 3 seriously and to aggressively work with their agencies and contractors to reach eligible Section 3 residents and to help them access jobs, training, contract opportunities or other economic benefits.

Section 3 ensures that employment and other economic opportunities generated by the expenditure of HUD financial assistance shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be directed to low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of Government assistance for housing. Since 1995, implementation of Section 3 has resulted in the increased employment of public housing residents and creation of resident-owned businesses. Some residents have gained self-sufficiency and purchased and relocated to single family homes.

Government-wide Employment Program

As part of the welfare to work initiative, HUD, together with other Federal agencies, will hire welfare recipients over the next four years in various jobs throughout Headquarters and Field Offices. Individuals will be provided with training in job skills, office practices/demeanor and counselling will be provided where necessary. Issues of child care, transit subsidies, mentoring, etc. are being explored to ensure that all possible assistance is provided in those areas where needed.

Link Welfare Recipients to Jobs

HUD housing programs help link welfare recipients to jobs. Often, there is a mismatch between where welfare recipients live and the location of entry-level jobs for which they have the appropriate education and skills. Stable and affordable housing can also mean the difference between steady employment and welfare receipt. The portability of Section 8 vouchers and certificates allows recipients to move wherever jobs exist, if there is housing available.

Incremental Rental Assistance Linked to Welfare Reform

Jurisdictions that receive Welfare to Work Challenge Grants develop coordinated strategies between their PHA and the State or local welfare agency for the use of incremental rental assistance.

CPD and other HUD programs: Welfare reform measures

CPD is now working with other program areas of HUD to develop strategies to provide jobs to long-term welfare recipients. These proposals have not yet been finalized. There are hundreds of projects all over the United States funded under the CDBG program listed in the 1995 Action Plans which offer support activities to improve the lives of public housing residents. Often these fund self-sufficiency programs for public housing residents.

CPD has undertaken several steps in strengthening citizen participation, as discussed in detail under Customer Service.

Regional Outreach Counseling

Counseling can help Section 8 recipients - who are often welfare recipients - identify housing locations that improve access to jobs and supportive services throughout a metropolitan area.

Coordinate Housing Assistance with Welfare Reform Efforts

Rent Incentives to Reward Work

HUD supports changing public and assisted housing rent rules that discourage work. When tenant rental payments are tied to income, any increase in income leads to an automatic rent increase. To prevent this disincentive, HUD has supported ceiling rents in public housing and provided Housing Authorities with the flexibility to disregard some or all earned income.

Encourage partnerships between PHAs and local social service agencies

HUD has included provisions in the Public Housing Management Reform Act that will encourage PHAs to collaborate with local TANF - administering and employment agencies to insure that residents have access to the resources they need to become self-sufficient rather than mandate that PHAs create redundant case management programs for residents, HUD will reward PHAs that help residents tap into existing community services, and help service agencies reach residents.


    Transition from Dependency to Work

    Limited funding from HUD can be used by program administrators to leverage substantial additional Federal, State, local and nonprofit resources. Resulting programs help residents prepare for, find and retain jobs.

    Bridges to Work

    Bridges to Work is an employment demonstration program designed to assist low-income households in cities by bridging the geographic barriers that isolate them from job opportunities throughout the larger metropolitan area. The demonstration was started in 1996 and is operating in five cities -- Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. The goal of Bridges to Work is to assist work ready, but unemployed or underemployed, city residents to secure and retain jobs via a time-limited but integrated services strategy. Bridges to Work provides transportation and other supportive services to help link central city residents to suburban jobs. This effort is coordinated closely with the Welfare-to-Work Transportation Initiative proposed by the Department of Transportation.

    Public Housing Supportive Services

    PIH provides Economic Development and Supportive Service grants to PHAs that collaborate with their local welfare office and other local partners for the purpose of helping their residents transition from welfare to work. Allowable activities include job training and business development training, as well as supportive services such as child care, transportation and counseling. The Tenant Opportunity Program, with grants for resident groups, similarly allows for job training and supportive services. In addition, the PH Drug Elimination program contains drug prevention and treatment for public housing residents.

    Services under the CDBG Program

    The Consolidated Plan seeks to improve the coordination between public housing and community development activities. This improved coordination has resulted in projects all over the United States where the CDBG program has assisted in providing services for public housing residents. Many of these projects are written up as a best practice in community development. The program has assisted in providing youth and adult services all over the United States that will assist in reducing welfare dependence of low-income residents.

    Neighborhood Networks

    The program, Neighborhood Networks, provides computer learning centers and education and employment services in privately owned assisted housing developments. These centers are funded from existing project revenues and reserves and do not require new appropriations.


    Youthbuild is a highly effective program that provides at-risk youth with educational and employment skills. The program offers 16 to 24 year old high school dropouts general academic and job skills training, as well as apprenticeship constructing and rehabilitating affordable housing.

    Youthbuild is a highly successful program which offers an opportunity for high school dropouts to receive education and training in the building trades and, at the same time, build or rehabilitate low and moderate income housing.

    In the third round of Youthbuild approvals from 1994 through 1996, some 4,200 jobs were created. Another competition has just been announced.

    HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance

    Jurisdictions may use HOME funds to provide tenant based rental assistance to assist welfare recipients as they transition to jobs. HOME tenant based rental assistance is a flexible resource which communities can integrate into locally-designed plans to assist persons with special needs, including those participating in self-sufficiency programs.

    Homeless Assistance Programs

    The Department's Homeless Assistance programs both provide funding for supportive services and leverage supportive services from local sources to help homeless persons move toward self-sufficiency. A significant portion of the Emergency Shelter Grants and Supportive Housing Program funds is used to provide services, including job training, day care, and case management to empower homeless persons to move into the mainstream of American life. The Shelter Plus Care program, which provides rental assistance, requires a one-to-one match in supportive services from local sources.

Partnership with Health and Human Services

In reviewing our draft Strategic Plan, HHS noted that: "Under the strategies section there is no mention of programs for children. Programs such as Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Starting Early Starting Smart Program provide support for children ages birth to seven, or HHS Secretary's Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative for ages 12-17. There is also no mention of support services for health care such as clinics, and health education classes."

HHS also noted that: "Under this objective issues of child care, transit subsidies, and mentoring are not programs that need to be just explored but researched, knowledge developed, and programs implemented either through interagency agreement or private sector collaboration. Partnerships created to support child care, transit, and mentoring will facilitate job retention." As discussed under Strategic Objective #2, HUD will explore agency coordination with HHS and other agencies over the coming months.

Program Evaluation

The Department currently has underway two major demonstrations related to empowerment and self-sufficiency; one is Bridges to Work and the other is Jobs Plus. In addition to these demonstrations, HUD has recently produced analyses of the Section 3 initiative and the Youth Apprenticeship Program, both of which are intended to provide jobs for public housing residents. We have evaluated the Gateway Program in Charlotte, NC and Operation Bootstrap, both of which attempted to promote self-sufficiency among public housing residents. Also recently, the Department has begun an aggressive research program in the area of crime and assisted housing. Work so far has included a crime survey, development of victimization survey methodologies, and a set of case studies on "defensible space" and assisted housing.

HUD also has underway an evaluation of the Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Communities program, which is the major recent job creation initiative. Additionally, HUD evaluations of grass roots economic development initiatives, of economic development programs operated by States and local governments through the Community Development Block Grant program, and of the Neighborhood Development Demonstration also recently focussed on this topic.

PD&R will continue to conduct studies related to performance measurement. Research resulting from the JOBS Plus and Bridges to Work demonstrations will help provide benchmarks for what we can expect from this type of program. It is also likely that PD&R will soon undertake an effort to assess the effects of welfare reform on assisted housing.

Linkage to HUD 2020: Management Reform Plan

CPD approves over 1,300 competitive grants a year, but staff reductions of 23% since 1992 have prevented adequate monitoring. The introduction of the Grants Management System includes an annual comparative review of all entitlement grantees, showing the full spectrum from "best practices" to high-risk projects and cities in need of technical assistance and monitoring. Structurally, the Office of Block Grant Assistance and the Office of Affordable Housing will be combined into the Office of Community Development.

For other reforms which will impact on this objective, see also the Linkage section under earlier objectives, especially Community Resource Representatives Objective #1.

External Factors

As with other objectives, HUD's ability to provide self-sufficiency opportunities is constrained by the nature of its programs. Where HUD provides flexible assistance to cities, counties, housing agencies, and States to use at their discretion, HUD has no direct control over the extent to which the funds will be used to address this objective.

Also as with other objectives, broad economic factors greatly affect the extent to which low income people will become self-sufficient. Vigorous, sustained economic growth will do more to promote self-sufficiency than HUD can do. And a decline in the economy will more than offset HUD's best efforts.

The job readiness of those with low incomes is another key external factor. Where people reach adulthood with little education, there are limits to the types of jobs to which they can aspire. Certainly, HUD-funded job opportunities and services can help, and along with educational and training opportunities funded through other agencies, they should have an important impact. But realistically, relatively few people who have reached their 30s with little education, with families, and little work history, will achieve great success in this economy.

Please see the section on External Factors under Objective #1.

How annual performance goals support the achievement of this objective

The ultimate goal of this objective is to move an increasing number of residents of assisted multifamily projects off welfare. The measurement of this indicator will depend on future collaborative efforts between HUD, HHS and Labor. Providing economic opportunities for low and moderate income persons through creation and retention of jobs will also be the result of coordination with other agencies. However, HUD can measure the number of jobs created as a direct result of HUD funds, especially EDI and Section 108. We also can increase annually the number of partnerships that help residents achieve self-sufficiency in each Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community.

See Appendix I for specific performance measures.

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Content Archived: December 12, 2011