Evaluation of the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator Program
Since 1998, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided funding for the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) program, which allowed eligible grantees to hire Service Coordinators to connect residents of public housing and tribal designated housing entities (TDHEs) to local services to meet a variety of tenant needs. In 2008, the ROSS program was consolidated again, the provision of direct services was removed (with the exception of coverage of certain allowable participant out-of-pocket costs) and only the service coordination approach was authorized, and was renamed the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator (ROSS-SC) program. In 2013, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report identifying significant gaps in data needed to document the effectiveness of the program. This study responds to Congress' request to conduct an evaluation of the ROSS-SC program in response to the GAO report.
Through a multi-method approach this first study of the ROSS-SC program found that ROSS Service Coordinators help residents of public housing and TDHEs access critical services, including help with emergency and long-term needs such as food security, transportation, healthcare, education, employment, youth services, and financial literacy. However, barriers, such as a lack of transportation and childcare, and a lack of service providers in lower-resourced, geographically isolated, smaller communities remain that prevent residents from getting the help they need. Service coordinators are educated and experienced, use a blended approach of case management and a broader connection to services through outreach and events, and rely on community partners for service connection and property managers to troubleshoot housing stability issues, such as property maintenance and eviction prevention.