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Building new partnerships for employment

All sites included the four mandated Jobs-Plus partners in their collaboratives: the local PHA, the welfare department, the workforce development agency, and public housing residents.11 They also included other local actors such as community foundations, nonprofit social service and employment and training providers, substance abuse treatment agencies, child care agencies, and transportation agencies. Although selection of the lead partner was left to each local collaborative, all sites chose their housing authority. The degree to which the housing authority has been the “driving force” behind the initiative has varied across sites, however. In each site, some of these partners had worked together before, but rarely, if ever, had they all joined forces in pursuit of such an ambitious employment goal. Thus, how well the partnerships would function was uncertain. As it turned out, collaboration for Jobs-Plus has been a long and bumpy journey, with many challenges and setbacks. Early on, some partners left the collaboratives, seeing no concrete role for their organizations. Others continued but expressed frustration at the slow pace of progress. These problems (among others) contributed to the slow implementation of Jobs-Plus. Indeed, it took the collaboratives until the year 2000 or later to get elements of all three program components in place—several years after the sites were selected for the demonstration. Despite these difficulties, the collaboratives persevered and made important (if uneven) progress in jointly funding and shaping the Jobs-Plus program and in coordinating services across agencies.