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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Waxman, Elaine ; Gundersen, Craig ; Fiol, Olivia
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2021

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the primary federal food assistance program, aims to reduce hunger and food insecurity by augmenting low-income families’ purchasing power. However, the effectiveness of SNAP can be limited in a variety of ways, including by maximum benefit level, challenges with the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), and geographic variation in food prices. In an earlier version of this brief, we documented one of these limitations: the failure of the SNAP benefit to account for the wide geographic variation in food prices across the US. In this brief, we update our assessment of the adequacy of SNAP benefits by examining their efficacy in the context of food prices across the US in 2020. We compare the maximum SNAP benefit per meal with the average cost of a meal purchased by food-secure households with incomes below the federal gross income limit for SNAP. We also adjust our assessment with an increase of 15 percent in maximum benefits, the size of the temporary increase in the maximum SNAP benefit implemented from January 2021 through September 2021...

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the primary federal food assistance program, aims to reduce hunger and food insecurity by augmenting low-income families’ purchasing power. However, the effectiveness of SNAP can be limited in a variety of ways, including by maximum benefit level, challenges with the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), and geographic variation in food prices. In an earlier version of this brief, we documented one of these limitations: the failure of the SNAP benefit to account for the wide geographic variation in food prices across the US. In this brief, we update our assessment of the adequacy of SNAP benefits by examining their efficacy in the context of food prices across the US in 2020. We compare the maximum SNAP benefit per meal with the average cost of a meal purchased by food-secure households with incomes below the federal gross income limit for SNAP. We also adjust our assessment with an increase of 15 percent in maximum benefits, the size of the temporary increase in the maximum SNAP benefit implemented from January 2021 through September 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Popkin, Susan J. ; Levy, Diane K. ; O'Brien, Mica; Boshart, Abby
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2021

    Repairing the aging, deteriorating public housing stock is a major challenge facing the Biden administration. We draw on three decades of research to highlight shortcomings in past public housing redevelopment programs such as HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhoods, including the loss of critically needed units and a lack of meaningful resident engagement in planning for redevelopment, relocation, and services. But future public housing redevelopment efforts can go beyond the mixed-income approach of past and ongoing initiatives and promote racial equity. We call for repealing the Faircloth Amendment to allow increased production of public housing units, strengthening existing place-based strategies, meaningfully engaging residents in all aspects of the redevelopment process, and raising public housing funding to a level that will preserve and expand this vital resource for affordable housing. (author abstract)

    Repairing the aging, deteriorating public housing stock is a major challenge facing the Biden administration. We draw on three decades of research to highlight shortcomings in past public housing redevelopment programs such as HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhoods, including the loss of critically needed units and a lack of meaningful resident engagement in planning for redevelopment, relocation, and services. But future public housing redevelopment efforts can go beyond the mixed-income approach of past and ongoing initiatives and promote racial equity. We call for repealing the Faircloth Amendment to allow increased production of public housing units, strengthening existing place-based strategies, meaningfully engaging residents in all aspects of the redevelopment process, and raising public housing funding to a level that will preserve and expand this vital resource for affordable housing. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Faucetta, Kristen ; Michalopoulos, Charles ; Portilla, Ximena A. ; Qiang, Ashley ; Lee, Helen ; Millenky, Megan ; Somers, Marie-Andrée
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2021

    Children develop fastest in their earliest years, and the skills and abilities they develop in those years help lay the foundation for future success. Early negative experiences can contribute to poor social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes both in early childhood and in later life. One approach that has helped parents and their young children is home visiting, which provides individually tailored support, resources, and information to expectant parents and families with young children. Many early childhood home visiting programs work with low-income families to help ensure the healthy development and well-being of their children.

    In 2010, Congress authorized the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program by enacting section 511 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 711, which also appropriated funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. Subsequently enacted laws extended funding for the program through fiscal year 2022. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in collaboration...

    Children develop fastest in their earliest years, and the skills and abilities they develop in those years help lay the foundation for future success. Early negative experiences can contribute to poor social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes both in early childhood and in later life. One approach that has helped parents and their young children is home visiting, which provides individually tailored support, resources, and information to expectant parents and families with young children. Many early childhood home visiting programs work with low-income families to help ensure the healthy development and well-being of their children.

    In 2010, Congress authorized the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program by enacting section 511 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 711, which also appropriated funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. Subsequently enacted laws extended funding for the program through fiscal year 2022. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in collaboration with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The initiation of the MIECHV Program began a major expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs for families living in at-risk communities. The legislation authorizing MIECHV recognized that there was considerable evidence about the effectiveness of home visiting, but also required an evaluation of MIECHV in its early years. That evaluation became the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE). The overarching goal of MIHOPE is to learn whether families and children benefit from MIECHV-funded early childhood home visiting programs, and if so, how. MIHOPE includes the four evidence-based home visiting models that 10 or more states chose in their fiscal year 2010-2011 plans for MIECHV funding: Early Head Start – Home-based option, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. From October 2012 to October 2015, a total of 4,229 families entered the study.

    Given the positive effects found in previous long-term studies of home visiting and previous findings that the benefits of home visiting outweigh the costs only after children enter elementary school, ACF and HRSA initiated plans to design long-term follow-ups with the families who are participating in MIHOPE. MDRC is conducting this work in partnership with Columbia University and Mathematica Policy Research. ACF and HRSA were interested in ensuring that any additional follow-up build on information from the earlier waves of data collection to the greatest extent possible, and that any proposed follow-up points build on one another. This long-term follow-up phase is called MIHOPE-LT. This report presents the proposed design for potential long-term follow-ups with MIHOPE families through the time when their children are in high school. The report also presents the detailed design for the follow-up that is occurring when children are in kindergarten. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Goerge, Robert M. ; Wiegand, Emily R. ; Gjertson, Leah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2021

    This brief summarizes results from a 2019 needs assessment of the capacity of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs in 54 U.S. states and territories to analyze data used for the purposes of program improvement, monitoring, and evidence-building. It highlights areas of strength and success in how these agencies use data, as well as areas for growth. It also includes suggested strategies that may improve data use by TANF agencies.

    The brief should be of interest to policymakers, researchers, and organizations seeking to expand the use of data in state TANF agencies. Additionally, it may be of interest to state TANF administrators who wish to understand the landscape of data use.

    Purpose

    The assessment was completed to understand TANF agencies’ needs for training and technical assistance to expand data use and capacity. These findings directly informed the design of the TANF Data Innovation (TDI) project, launched by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen agencies’ use...

    This brief summarizes results from a 2019 needs assessment of the capacity of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs in 54 U.S. states and territories to analyze data used for the purposes of program improvement, monitoring, and evidence-building. It highlights areas of strength and success in how these agencies use data, as well as areas for growth. It also includes suggested strategies that may improve data use by TANF agencies.

    The brief should be of interest to policymakers, researchers, and organizations seeking to expand the use of data in state TANF agencies. Additionally, it may be of interest to state TANF administrators who wish to understand the landscape of data use.

    Purpose

    The assessment was completed to understand TANF agencies’ needs for training and technical assistance to expand data use and capacity. These findings directly informed the design of the TANF Data Innovation (TDI) project, launched by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen agencies’ use of TANF, employment, and other administrative data. The brief shares findings more broadly to inform similar and future efforts.

    Key Findings and Highlights

    Positive characteristics of data use by state TANF agencies include the following:

    • Information is flowing to TANF decision-makers, especially through regular reports of aggregated data.
    • Agencies have access to a consistent set of data elements.
    • Agency staff members have knowledge of fundamental data analysis techniques and tools.
    • TANF staff members rate their agency’s data use highly.

    Areas for growth in state TANF agency data use include:

    • Limited staff capacity, especially staff time, restricts what agencies can do.
    • Users may not be able to understand or trust the data because of data quality or documentation challenges.
    • Some states have modernized data systems, but other systems are increasingly becoming obsolete.
    • Agencies report access to employment data for TANF recipients, but access for analytical purposes continues to be a challenge.

    Methods

    There were three components to the needs assessment. The first component was an online survey of the 54 states and territories that operate TANF; 48 of 54 agencies responded. The second was a series of in-depth stakeholder interviews with experts from federal and local government agencies and human service, research, and technology organizations. The third was a systematic review of online public reports and analyses that used TANF data. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Bergman, Peter ; Chetty, Raj ; DeLuca, Stefanie ; Hendren, Nathaniel ; Katz, Lawrence ; Palmer, Christopher
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2020

    Low-income families in the United States tend to live in neighborhoods that offer limited opportunities for upward income mobility. One potential explanation for this pattern is that low-income families prefer such neighborhoods for other reasons, such as affordability or proximity to family and jobs. An alternative explanation is that families do not move to high-opportunity areas because of barriers that prevent them from making such moves.

    We test between these two explanations using a randomized controlled trial with housing voucher recipients in Seattle and King County. We provided services to reduce barriers to moving to high-upward-mobility neighborhoods: customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance. The intervention increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas from 14% in the control group to 54% in the treatment group. Families induced to move to higher opportunity areas by the treatment do not make sacrifices on other dimensions of neighborhood quality and report much higher levels of...

    Low-income families in the United States tend to live in neighborhoods that offer limited opportunities for upward income mobility. One potential explanation for this pattern is that low-income families prefer such neighborhoods for other reasons, such as affordability or proximity to family and jobs. An alternative explanation is that families do not move to high-opportunity areas because of barriers that prevent them from making such moves.

    We test between these two explanations using a randomized controlled trial with housing voucher recipients in Seattle and King County. We provided services to reduce barriers to moving to high-upward-mobility neighborhoods: customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance. The intervention increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas from 14% in the control group to 54% in the treatment group. Families induced to move to higher opportunity areas by the treatment do not make sacrifices on other dimensions of neighborhood quality and report much higher levels of neighborhood satisfaction.

    These findings imply that most low-income families do not have a strong preference to stay in low-opportunity areas; instead, barriers in the housing search process are a central driver of residential segregation by income. Interviews with families reveal that the capacity to address each family’s needs in a specific manner from emotional support to brokering with landlords to financial assistance was critical to the program’s success. Using quasi-experimental analyses and comparisons to other studies, we show that more standardized policies increasing voucher payment standards in high-opportunity areas or informational interventions have much smaller impacts.

    We conclude that redesigning affordable housing policies to provide customized assistance in housing search could reduce residential segregation and increase upward mobility substantially. (author abstract)

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