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Residential mobility of public housing

Conceiving of Jobs-Plus as a place-based intervention with the goal not only of changing individuals but also of transforming the communities in which they live, the demonstration’s designers looked for further guidance to the efforts of a growing number of community change initiatives. The past several decades have seen the rise of numerous community efforts to revitalize poor urban neighborhoods and improve their residents’ quality of life. The earliest examples launched in the late 1980s by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (New Futures), Ford Foundation (Neighborhood and Family Initiative), and the Rockefeller Foundation (Community Planning and Action Program) helped inspire the emergence of an estimated fifty foundation-funded projects that have come to be known as “comprehensive community initiatives.”4 Although their goals and tactics differ in the details, these initiatives tend to share a common set of “community-building” principles, which stress local control; collaborative decision making; resident empowerment; building on residents’ and communities’ existing physical, economic, and social assets; and strengthening the capacity of residents and local institutions to promote and sustain positive changes in their communities.5 Aware of the potentially powerful role that social networks might play in promoting—or thwarting—economic opportunities for residents of public housing, the Jobs-Plus designers added a third major component, which they called “community support for work.” Although they offered no blueprint specifying what forms this feature of Jobs-Plus should take, they did envision that, among other things, it would include involving the residents themselves in becoming sources of work promotion, encouragement, information, advice, and support to each other. In other words, Jobs-Plus would rely not just on professional caseworkers “doing things” to or for residents; it would also involve neighbors helping neighbors in ways that might improve their employment outcomes.