Representatives from three out of a total of eight joint WtW programs
- CHAC, Inc. (representing the Metrolinks Joint Program comprised
of Chicago/Lake County/DuPage County/Cook County PHAs)
- Seattle/King County
- Snohomish (for Everett/Snohomish Joint Program)
Joint Program Purpose, Structure, and Coordination
- Everett and Snohomish PHAs have long history of
collaboration and a close working relationship that extends beyond
WtW. Establishing a joint WtW program allowed them to make the
WtW vouchers available throughout the county, with no geographic
boundaries. Both PHAs share a commitment to self-sufficiency programs,
as well as similar philosophies. To operate the WtW program, these
two PHAs work with 13 partner agencies that are responsible for
referring families, monitoring adherence to WtW family obligations,
and providing case management services to WtW families. Everett
and Snohomish meet with their partner agencies quarterly to discuss
- Four Chicago-area PHAs operate the Metrolinks WtW voucher
program. Metrolinks was created to address the pronounced
mismatch between concentrations of low-income families living
in the City of Chicago and the significant growth of jobs in the
suburbs. The hope is that the program will give families the opportunity
to move closer to employment centers. Metrolinks is operated through
a steering committee, which is made up of representatives from
each of the four PHAs as well as other partners (all non-service)
such as the Chicago Department of Human Services, Department of
Workforce Development, and the Metropolitan Planning Council.
The steering committee meets monthly. Metrolinks has also hired
a project manager through private funds to help administer the
- Seattle/King County PHAs have overlapping jurisdictions
and developed their joint program to better serve shared clients.
The joint approach is important given the fact that, while at
least 50 percent of the area's jobs are located in Seattle, approximately
70 percent of the area's population lives in the suburbs. The
program is in a state of transition, and the PHAs are looking
to add more structure to their WtW programs.
Challenges and Tips for Success
Challenge #1: Ensuring strong communication and coordination
Maintaining good communication and coordination between or among
the PHAs operating jointly can be an ongoing challenge. Differences
in PHA size, commitment to the program, and capacity to manage the
program contribute to breakdowns in communication and coordination.
Another factor is the extent to which partner agencies are involved
in the decision-making process.
Tip for Success:
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Clearly defining
roles and responsibilities of each PHA as well as roles and responsibilities
of partner agencies is critical to good communication/coordination.
- Tap into existing relationships. Having an already established
relationship with the other PHA(s) prior to WtW is helpful.
- Use a liaison. During the first 18 months of WtW voucher
program implementation, Everett/Snohomish hired a person to serve
as a laison between the two agencies to work out the details of
starting-up and administering this new program. This helped to
develop and maintain strong lines of communication.
- Centralize program administration. Metrolinks has hired
a project coordinator to help administer the program, including
coordination among the four PHAs and partners.
- Maintain ongoing communication. Both Metrolinks and Everett/Snohomish
meet regularly with their partners to discuss program details.
Challenge #2: Supporting client portability
While joint programs should be in a better position to facilitate
family moves to areas closer to employment and services, making
portability work is still a challenge. Joint PHAs often have inadequate
resources to dedicate to mobility activities or lack formal structures/systems
to promote portability moves that support the goals of the program.
Tip for Success:
Challenge #3: Identifying and supporting WtW families
- Establish clear policies. Establishing portability policies
as part of the WtW-family obligations can help to promote moves
that support the goals of the program.
- Maintain regional mindset. CHAC has established a "FSS
Knowledge Exchange" whereby area FSS Coordinators meet regularly
to form networks to better support families. CHAC hopes that this
will serve as a more formal mechanism to support portability.
Selecting and keeping families committed to the goals of the program
is a constant challenge. Selecting the right families for the program,
reducing failure rates and terminations, and encouraging families
to maintain employment are all areas in which PHAs are focusing
time and money. PHAs without targeted selection criteria and/or
WtW family obligations are finding it difficult to put "teeth"
into the program. In addition, inconsistencies in the quality of
services and/or commitment of partner agencies weaken the program.
Tips for Success:
- Create incentives for WtW families to meet the program's
employment objectives. Encouraging families to participate
in FSS and offering homeownership programs to WtW voucher participants
are both good ways to create incentives for WtW families to meet
the program's employment objectives.
- Use selection criteria. Everett/Snohomish have recently
changed their selection criteria to require families to be working.
- Meet regularly with families. Even if a PHA does not
have work requirements, there is value to meeting with the family
to discuss progress, remind them of the program's self-sufficiency
goals, and link them to services.
- Establish work requirements. Although PHAs cannot impose
work requirements on existing WtW families, PHAs can consider
establishing work requirements for new families entering the program
due to turnover or the award of additional WtW vouchers.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
- One of the biggest challenges is developing the proper structure
that allows a joint program to be a truly regional program.
- Regional partnerships that have developed because of the joint
WtW programs have benefited other PHA programs as well.
- A strong existing partnership and history of collaboration between
the participating PHAs is critical to the success of the joint
WtW program. It is difficult to make the program work without
similar levels of commitment, philosophies, etc.
- HUD should consider strategies for making joint programs more
meaningful, i.e., allowing for the joint PHAs to control the amount
of WtW units allocated to each participating agency.
- The U.S. Department of Human Services plans to commit TANF funds
specifically to the WtW voucher program.