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Implications for Policy and Practice of New Research on an Asset-Building Model for FSS

Jeffrey Lubell

White Paper

April 16, 2018

Abt Associates recently completed an evaluation of Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs in Lynn and Cambridge, Massachusetts administered by the nonprofit Compass Working Capital in partnership with public housing agencies (PHAs) in those cities. Our initial report found that Compass FSS produced strong earnings gains, a reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program expenditures and improvements in credit and debt outcomes that exceeded available benchmarks. A subsequent costbenefit analysis found that the program’s benefits greatly outweighed its costs. This paper explores the implications of this evaluation for the broader debate about how to help residents of subsidized housing to increase their earnings and build assets and financial capability.