While the primary goal of the HOPE VI program is to improve the living environment of public housing residents, it also aims to help residents move toward self-sufficiency by helping them find new or better jobs (see page 6). The program's Community Support Services (CSS) component can help identify what residents need, such as job training or placement, to make them more likely to find employment. Relocation itself might help residents find employment if they move to less poor neighborhoods with more job opportunities and better job information networks. Residents who move back to new mixed-income developments on the HOPE VI sites could experience similar improved job networks.
However, whether these expectations of increased employment and self-sufficiency are realistic for HOPE VI residents is unclear. For both employed and nonemployed residents, the gap between household income and the income needed for housing and other costs of living is wide. The HOPE VI Panel Study is tracking the well-being of residents from five HOPE VI sites (see page 7). These respondents, mostly African American women, were extremely poor at baseline. The vast majority reported household incomes below the poverty level, and over a third (35 percent) reported annual incomes of less than $5,000. Less than half (45 percent) of respondents were employed, and those who were working earned low wages (Popkin et al. 2002).
This brief discusses income and employment findings for working-age adults under 62 years old two years after relocation started at the five HOPE VI Panel Study sites. It examines various barriers to employment for respondents, and considers both expectations for future employment and the services and support systems that might best mitigate those barriers. Future research will examine how residents' employment experiences are affected as relocation is completed and some residents return to the revitalized developments.
Notes from this section
1. Among respondents under 62 years old, 82 percent were non-Hispanic African American women and 9 percent were Hispanic women.
2. A future brief in the "A Roof Over Their Heads" series will examine income and employment findings for adults over 62 years old.