Lessons from the Field on the Implementation of Section 3

| Maxine Bailey, Suzanne Lynn

In 1994, MDRC, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rockefeller Foundation, launched a project to determine the feasibility of a demonstration to test the effectiveness of Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 as a job creation/job access mechanism in public housing communities. Section 3 obligates public housing authorities (PHAs) to afford residents access to jobs and contracting opportunities created by federal funding. This paper summarizes what was learned during the course of the project. It includes case studies of seven PHAs, an analysis of issues around rent reform, and a discussion of the lessons that can be drawn at this preliminary stage. MDRC recommends a multipronged resident job access demonstration that combines demand-side strategies, such as Section 3, with supply-side employment and training “best practices”; introduces and implements work incentives; and uses a community-building approach to maximize the benefits of the location-based dynamics of public housing communities.