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More Than a Roof: Case Studies of Public Housing Agency Initiatives to Increase Residents’ Economic Security – 2012


Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) currently provide affordable housing to roughly 3 million households nationwide through various programs. The Center for Housing Policy published this report to provide an overview of PHA programs currently in place, highlighting examples of particularly successful agencies, and introducing two innovative approaches to economic security for residents.

Key Points

This report uses thorough case studies to highlight examples of agencies that have successfully implemented programs to improve the economic security of their residents. Four programs deemed easily replicable were featured: The Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) in Montgomery County, Maryland; Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership in Louisville, Kentucky; the Boston Housing Authority’s Earned Income Tax Credit Assistance program; and the San Diego Housing Commission’s Individual Development Accounts.

Other report highlights include:

  1. The major focus of the report is not on PHAs creating entirely new programs; rather, the emphasis is on PHAs increasing their residents’ economic security opportunities by more fully utilizing already-existing programs.
  2. One of the innovative approaches discussed is the expansion of the FSS program in Lynn, Massachusetts. Termed an “asset-building approach,” Lynn created a partnership between a local non-profit organization, the housing authority, the foundation community, and a local university. Their effort will focus on financial coaching, credit repair, and individual asset-building.
  3. Another new approach highlighted is the Opportunity Housing Initiative (OHI) in Portland, Oregon. Combining basic FSS elements with modified escrow and income incentives, the OHI provides significant opportunity for economic gains during its five-year program.
  4. The report concludes with a summary of key takeaways from these case studies, including an emphasis on establishing partnerships and having a strong, visionary leader.

How to Use

Improving the economic security of individuals in a community can have a positive impact on the community as a whole. Public housing agencies can use this report to identify ways in which programs in their localities could be improved, without completely starting from scratch.  Similarly, local organizations can recognize the impact of strong partnerships at the local level.

View full report: More Than a Roof: Case Studies of Public Housing Agency Initiatives to Increase Residents’ Economic Security – 2012 (PDF – 3.5 MB)

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