The Sax Institute has published the findings of an evidence check review prepared jointly by SACES and the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning (CHURP) at the University of Adelaide. The review identified empirical evidence of the effectiveness of measures to encourage and assist social housing tenants into paid employment. It also assessed the robustness of the evidence.
The study found that relevant support programs and strong evaluations of programs specifically targeted at unemployed (or underemployed) social housing tenants were largely confined to the USA. A few initiatives had also been trialled and evaluated in the United Kingdom, although they were not exclusively aimed at supporting social housing tenants. Australian studies identified in the search included programs supporting social housing tenants, which were very small scale.
Support programs typically offered a combination of services, including:
- on site employment services, including job search support;
- work focused training;
- financial incentives;
- financial skills training, including rent arrear management; and
- local neighbourhood job networking.
The high-intensity programs in the US demonstrated significant earnings or employment impacts, also in the long term. However, the evaluations were unable to determine the most effective support components, except for ruling out any marked effect of neighbourhood job networking.
Most other studies lacked sufficiently robust evaluation methods for a reliable impact assessment, but suggested (mildly) positive effects of intensive individualised support. Avoiding unsupportive people and instead developing motivating and encouraging personal friendships, and providing practical supports, such as affordable childcare for parents, increased the likelihood of a successful labour market integration of unemployed social housing tenants.
The report was authored by Andreas Cebulla (SACES), Chris Leishman and Kirstie Petrou (both CHURP), and can be accessed here.