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Asset Building Helps Stabilize Low-Income Families in Massachusetts


  • Can a HUD program help participants improve their economic security?
  • Abt evaluated 269 rental assistance recipients for approximately 40 months
  • Participants gained more than $10,000 in income over five years
The Challenge

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program helps recipients of federal rental assistance make progress toward economic security. Compass Working Capital, in partnership with local housing authorities in Lynn and Cambridge, Mass., developed an approach to help participants increase their earnings, build assets, and pay down debt. If it worked, it could be a great program to duplicate elsewhere. Did it?

The Approach

Abt evaluated the Compass program by following 269 rental assistance recipients for an average of 40 months. Abt used HUD data from the PIH Information Center (PIC). The PIC data include information about earnings, demographics and household composition.

The Results

Participants gained more than $10,000 in income over five years at a net cost to the government of $276. The share of participants with a FICO® score increased from 91 to 98 percent, and enrollees who already had a FICO® credit score saw an average increase of 23 points.


Learn more about the project and findings.