The most vulnerable Chicago public housing families struggling with persistent unemployment, substance abuse, and emotional and physical trauma have better employment prospects, experience improved mental health, and live in safer neighborhoods with the help of comprehensive counseling and support services, an Urban Institute evaluation of a demonstration project shows.

"Stabilizing high-risk families—the heaviest consumers of intensive services—may have long-term payoffs for them and may also lower program costs," said lead researcher Susan Popkin.

The 3-year demonstration, undertaken by Heartland Human Care Services and Housing Choice Partners from March 2007 to March 2010, produced "a remarkably successful model" for providing services to residents in public and assisted housing, said Popkin. But it was less successful in helping families move to low-poverty neighborhoods and in improving outcomes for children and youth, who continue to show alarmingly high levels of distress.

Housing, Chicago, Housing, United States