(Size of WtW Program: 700 vouchers)
Research indicates that many low-income families face multiple
barriers to employment, including minimal education, limited skill
levels, and a poor work history. To be successful, housing authorities
need to provide Welfare to Work (WtW) voucher program participants
with a broad array of supportive services, particularly those related
to job training and job placement. However, many housing authorities
have limited staff and resources to provide the level of employment
services that these participants need. It is also difficult to identify
ways in which different programs can coordinate services to make
efficient use of resources and maximize results.
Solution: Combining Resources to Achieve Common Goals - Family Self-sufficiency and Welfare to Work
CHAC has created a strong partnership between their Welfare to
Work (WtW) and the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs. CHAC's
FSS program encourages communities to work towards the development
of local strategies to help publicly assisted families obtain employment
and provide other services that will lead to economic independence
and self-sufficiency. When the WtW voucher program began in 2000,
CHAC had been running FSS for about six years, with over 1000 clients
enrolled. Because of the cooperation with welfare agencies, schools,
businesses, and other local partners, CHAC's FSS program continues
to be successful, with 1300 clients currently participating. While
participation in the FSS program cannot be required of WtW families,
CHAC realized that it was extremely important to combine resources
and goals of the two programs and encourage WtW families to participate
in both. By joining FSS, WtW recipients are able to access more
supportive services and reach their goal of self-sufficiency more
quickly and effectively.
The following types of assistance are available through the FSS
program and can help WtW and other CHAC clients:
- Homeownership Program (Choose to Own): This program
helps qualified families participating in the voucher program
and FSS to purchase a home. Instead of paying a portion of the
participant's rent each month, the program pays a portion of the
- Jobs for Teenage Children: CHAC provides many after-school
or weekend work opportunities for teenage children, such as jobs
with local retail stores, movie theaters, the City of Chicago,
the Chicago Park District, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Brookfield
Zoo. CHAC also has a relationship with the Charles A. Hayes Family
Investment Center, which has a CyberYouth program for older teens.
The Cyber Youth program provides computer training and job placement.
- Housing Modification Fund: CHAC helps voucher holders
with disabilities pay some of the costs for modifying their rental
units to make them more accessible. The types of projects could
include the installation of ramps, motorized chair lifts, flashing
alarm systems, intercoms, and may other features. Grants of up
to $5,000 are available.
- Resource Room: The resource room is located in CHAC's
headquarters and is furnished with two computer-equipped work
stations, table and chairs suitable for small meetings or individual
work, several circular brochure stands, and shelves containing
printed materials. Users have access to the Internet, a telephone,
and a variety of newspapers. The type of information available
includes: list of shelters, food pantries, clothing closets, and
other emergency services; neighborhood profiles; information on
how to identify quality school systems; listings of job fairs
and training opportunities; and resources for assistance with
substance abuse. View our LFEO case study about CHAC's
resource room for more information.
- Savings Account: An interest-bearing savings account
is established for clients in the program. Every time income and
rent increases, CHAC puts a matching dollar amount into the client's
savings account. When a client has successfully completed the
FSS program, they are able to keep the money that has accumulated
in the savings account. CHAC currently has over $2 million total
- Free Transportation: CHAC offers free transportation
for people with disabilities to view apartments or homes for rent.
CHAC's Special Programs Department manages WtW, FSS, Homeownership,
and other services. All functions for these clients (annual recertifications,
transfers, and interims) are handled by six Special Programs Housing
Specialists. When a WtW client comes in for a recertification, she
is interviewed by one of the housing specialists who then refers
her to a FSS client service representative. The FSS client service
representative then meets with the WtW voucher holder to discuss
the services available through FSS and answer questions about the
program. This meeting is the first step in bridging together the
WtW and FSS programs.
CHAC's FSS and WtW programs are client-centered, geared toward
offering support, not sanctions. The staff assists clients in identifying
and creating goals, but does not force clients to adhere to specific
guidelines. This leads to a comfortable atmosphere where clients
feel supported to go out and make the most of their new-found opportunities.
It also allows CHAC staff to centralize resources on clients that
are most eager to obtain self-sufficiency, rather than chase down
clients "forced" into specific programs.
CHAC's approach to marketing the FSS program to WtW clients includes
- Monthly Newsletter. One of CHAC's most-effective
marketing pieces is their monthly newsletter. In the January 2002
issue, CHAC featured a message targeting WtW voucher recipients
that said, "During 2001, the FSS program helped 124 participants
find full-time employment. Make 2002 the year that you enroll
in the program and begin your own progress towards self-sufficiency.
If you received a Welfare to Work voucher, we are especially eager
to serve you."
- Information at Voucher Issuance Briefings. CHAC
also promotes FSS to WtW recipients at voucher issuance briefings
and information sessions that are held in local churches and libraries.
This information is communicated to prospective clients with flyers
and pamphlets that outline specific topics for discussion and
- Flyers and Brochures. CHAC distributes flyers
and brochures to clients and members of the community on an ongoing
basis. The flyers are geared specifically to WtW recipients and
market FSS as a program offering employment opportunities, the
chance for voucher recipients to build and obtain new skills,
and opportunity for voucher recipients to become financially stable.
Through these marketing strategies, the FSS program is able to
grow and WtW voucher program participants are able to take advantage
of a broad array of supportive services, particularly those related
to job training and job placement.
Approximately six percent of the 1300 participants in CHAC's Family
Self-Sufficiency program are Welfare to Work voucher recipients.
This constitutes about 9 percent of the 898 WtW voucher holders.
The program is expected to grow with the recent push to educate
WtW recipients further about FSS.
Contact:Jane Larkin, Manager of Special
email@example.com, 312-986-9400 x4615
Rachel Williams, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Source: Interview with CHAC staff, CHAC newsletters, and brochures.