Steps Toward Independence: Evaluating an Integrated Service Program for Public Housing Residents

Anne B. Shlay, C. Scott Holupka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Family Development Center (FDC) is an important local welfare reform demonstration located at Lafayette Courts, one of Baltimore, Maryland’s largest public housing developments. The FDC approach consists of bringing an array of services on-site and coordinating the delivery of these services to address the myriad of problems facing poor families. To determine if the program was beginning to meet its goal of achieving family economic independence, an evaluation was conducted to investigate the program’s early effects during its first 2 years of operations. Using a quasi-experimental design, examining both primary and secondary data, and incorporating a multivariate strategy, the research found that the FDC was successful at increasing participation in programs designed to increase people’s labor market participation and earnings. Participation in the FDC was accompanied by increased educational aspirations, higher self-esteem, and a greater sense of control over one’s life. Importantly, families’economic circumstances were not altered by participating in the FDC in its early years. On the contrary, employment among non-FDC participants increased, whereas that of FDC participants de clined This research found that higher levels of participation in education programs explained lower rates of labor market participation by FDC participants, suggesting that human capital investment strategies, like the FDC, may not lead to economic gains over the short term. But if investment in human capital brings with it increased economic returns, the accompanying absence from the labor market may indicate a longer-term payoff. This suggests that a longer amount of time will be necessary to determine if the FDC is able to help families become economically independent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-533
Number of pages26
JournalEvaluation Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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