A Two-Generation Approach Seeks Change for Public Housing Residents

A Two-Generation Approach Seeks Change for Public Housing Residents
Susan J. Popkin, Marla McDaniel
Publication Date:
December 2013
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The Urban Institute's Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) program seeks to address not just housing but the complex web of socioeconomic issues that keep families from being self-sustaining. HOST: Can Public Housing be a Platform for Change explores the existing literature on poverty and housing and examines past policy interventions that have sought to improve the lives of families in government-assisted housing. Taking lessons from prior studies, the HOST program provides social services and programming to two generations of residents in public housing communities in four major cities: Chicago, Washington, DC, New York, and Portland. With a focus on targeted, multi-pronged services, the HOST program is attempting to instigate long-term social change that will lead to better social and economic outcomes for entire communities.

Major findings:

  • Interventions in neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantage must address not only economic segregation, but the effects of a history of racial segregation.
  • Distressed communities often suffer from a lack of "collective efficacy," or the community-wide trust that enables neighborhoods to establish and keep order.
  • Poor economic and social outcomes in distressed neighborhoods are largely due to residents’ lack of connections to the labor market, educational systems, and other institutions.
  • The HOST program seeks to stop and redirect social processes that lead to sexual predation, domestic violence, drug addiction and violence.
  • The HOST program seeks to interrupt destructive social patterns and create brighter futures for families by providing comprehensive wrap-around services that address complex health, mental health, and educational challenges.