Recent Research Results PD&R, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Policy Development and Research
RRR logo HUD's Welfare to Work Vouchers

The Welfare to Work (WtW) voucher program is an innovative strategy to coordinate Federal housing assistance with welfare reform. In October 1999 HUD competitively awarded WtW vouchers to 121 housing agencies in 35 States. Under WtW housing agencies must coordinate their programs with local welfare and workforce development agencies.

How are housing agencies, which have traditionally provided only housing services, meeting this challenge? A new report from HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, Welfare to Work Housing Voucher Program: Early Implementation Assessment, examines 13 WtW voucher programs that were under way quickly. This research is part of a long-term study that compares families who received WtW vouchers with families who have traditional housing choice vouchers.

According to the new report, early results from the 13 WtW voucher sites are encouraging. Several sites established innovative partnerships with other agencies. Flexibility in WtW voucher regulations encouraged local housing agencies and their partners to craft programs that met their needs. In Miami, the housing agency connected WtW clients to a public-private coalition that contracts with Goodwill Industries for employment, training, and casework.

Some housing agencies have developed more targeted eligibility criteria—adding a work requirement or incorporating eligibility requirements from other local agencies. For example, the WtW voucher program in Aiken, South Carolina, targets clients of Work to Win, an employment program for people with poor work histories or substance abuse problems or who don't have high school diplomas. Other housing agencies have established unique referral or termination policies. Overall, communities have built on local strengths, philosophies, and service systems to design tenant-based housing assistance that encourages work.

Policymakers and program administrators reading this report will discover how agencies are implementing the WtW program. Stories from early implementations indicate an ability to draw on the program's flexibility by designing unique eligibility criteria, referral and intake procedures, and termination policies. The report emphasizes that it is too early to determine whether the WtW voucher program will meet legislative objectives of supporting the employment of low-income families and linking housing assistance more closely with welfare reform. However, the early results indicate that WtW vouchers are promoting partnerships and encouraging communities to integrate housing programs with other local services.

Welfare to Work Housing Voucher Program: Early Implementation Assessment Final Report is available from HUD USER for $5. Use the order form.

Learn more about HUD's Office of University Partnerships with the new CD, Building Partnerships, Building Futures, available for $5 from HUD USER. Use the order form.

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