The Worcester Housing Authority has developed a program to help residents become self-sufficient. Our program is called “A Better Life” (ABL). This program offers interested applicants a faster means to secure an apartment for their family compared to the standard waiting time for a public housing apartment. In return, the applicant agrees to do those things necessary to provide their family with a better life. We will work with them every step of the way.
The program that we built is based on four pillars.
- Believe in the ability of our residents.
- Set high standards
- Hold residents responsible
- Help residents reach those standards.
The current method for providing families public housing has created a system that rewards residents who are not pursuing self-sufficiency. Following the four pillars cited above, our program looks to change the way public housing is provided to families and, as a result, break the cycle of intergenerational poverty that the current system has created.
We intend to implement a program that will encourage, motivate and require residents to either go back to school to further/complete their education, go into the work force on a full-time basis or some combination of school and work equal to full-time.
Participants in this program will be required to fully participate in the ABL program as described in this page. It is important to keep in mind that while the general requirements are described on this page, each participating family will have a Family Development Plan prepared. Members of participating families will be required to make a full and sincere effort to comply with all of the terms of the FDP.
The following program requirements would apply:
Intensive Case Management Program
All residents who must fulfill the school/work requirement will also be required to participate in mandatory case management. This program is an expanded, intensive version of the existing FSS program. This case management starts with a comprehensive 5-part personal/family assessment including assessment of their:
- finances/financial literacy
- education level
- occupational history and readiness
- personal/family challenges
The results of these assessments will form the basis for the creation of a Family Development Plan (FDP) which will be developed in cooperation between the resident and the case manager.
All adult public housing residents who agree to participate in this program will be required to go to work or attend school 30 hours per week to continue to receive housing benefits. This includes all adult members within the household. Those residents who refuse to participate will be subject to lease enforcement including eviction.
NOTE 1: After making a sincere effort to find employment, any resident who is unable to do so will be offered community service at the WHA while their job search continues.
NOTE 2: The WHA has developed an employment training program to help residents get ready for employment. Additionally, our staff will work with participants to help them find a job that fits their qualifications.
Community Service Requirement
ABL adult participants that are not performing 30 weekly hours of school or work, will be required to perform community service. This requirement applies to all adult household members. For example, if a participant is working 20 hours a week, they will be required to perform 10 hours of community service.
Participants can combine their weekly school and work hours to count towards this requirement. For example, a participant that is attending school 12 hours a week and works 20 hours a week would be in compliance and not required to perform community service.
The WHA will assign the community service work to be performed and can include exterior work such as picking up trash, raking leaves, cleaning stairwells, light landscape or office work such as filing, photocopying, customer service, etc. Community service duties are assigned weekly and subject to where the need is.
As residents move to employment, they will become enrolled in an escrow program which will place any increased rent, due to their employment, aside for their future use or in the income disregard program to immediately accelerate debt reduction.
Life Skills Workshops
All adult residents who must fulfill the school/work requirement will be required to participate in a comprehensive training program designed to help them gain the skills they need to improve their lives and to become a constructive member of the larger community. Training would include subject matter relating to financial literacy, domestic violence, conflict resolution, parenting and other topics.
Admissions / Wait List
Interested families need to apply at the Admissions Department at 40 Belmont Street. They are to request an application for the “A Better Life” program. Applicants for the ABL program can expect to be offered an apartment by the WHA quicker than applicants on standard public housing waiting list.
Criteria for admission into a state subsidized public housing apartment would apply and the process for application and review of said application will be the same as currently exists. Further, all of the rules and regulations governing occupancy will be as they exist today. The only difference will be a lease addendum which outlines the requirements of this program.
If your household contains an elderly adult or an adult with a disability who is unable to fulfill the work/school requirements of the ABL program, your household may receive this admissions preference without that member being required to fulfill work/school requirements of the ABL program.
If your household contains a member with a disability, you also have the right to request a reasonable accommodation to allow that member to have an equal opportunity to participate in the program. A reasonable accommodation request form may be obtained from the tenant selection department or printed here. Click here for "Notice of Reasonable Accommodations" and forms.
Participants in this program will pay the standard rent required of all WHA residents based on their income. All other costs including security deposit and first and last month’s rent that apply to standard applicants will apply to participants of this program.
This program is only being offered for families who would live at Curtis Apartments and other state subsidized family developments.
Participants will sign the standard state lease including an addendum which details the specific requirements of participation in this program. The addendum will make it clear that those who take advantage of this preference will face eviction if they drop out or are otherwise removed from the program.
Our single motivation for proposing this program is to help families move toward self-sufficiency and out of public housing. Our model is tested and the results are very encouraging. We believe that we should give a few families, who are willing to work hard, the chance to earn a better life by providing them with the opportunity for public housing and then allowing them to participate in a rigorous program aimed at self-sufficiency.