Abt Reports Positive Impacts and Net Monetary Benefits Associated with Innovative Compass FSS Program Model

Date Published: 
November 1st, 2021

On October 12, Abt Associates released two reports to present an evaluation of the impacts and net monetary benefits associated with innovative implementation of the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program administered by Compass Working Capital in partnership with local housing agencies. The Compass FSS program model emphasizes helping families to build assets and improve their financial capabilities. In recruiting families, Compass builds on the aspirations that rental assistance participants have for themselves and their families. Using participant-centered coaching, Compass helps families identify and achieve their financial goals.

Using HUD administrative data, Abt conducted a quasi-experimental analysis of the impact of Compass FSS program model on the earnings and public benefits receipt of Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) households at three public housing authorities (PHAs), including CLPHA members Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), Boston Housing Authority (administered through Metro Housing a nonprofit organization). In its first reportAbt found that participants in the Compass FSS program earned more on average and received less in cash public assistance payments than their matched peers. The report details that:

  • Compass FSS participants had annual household earnings that were $4,997 (21 percent) higher (on average) than the earnings of the comparison group 1 to 3 years after FSS enrollment.
  • Compass FSS participants had annual public assistance receipt that was $447 (50 percent) lower (on average) than that of the comparison group 1 to 3 years after FSS enrollment.

The second reportCosts and Benefits of Family Self- Sufficiency Programs Administered by Compass Working Capital in Partnership with Housing Agencies in Cambridge and Boston, MA (2021)analyzes the monetary costs and benefits of Compass FSS program model in HCV programs at the CHA and Metro Housing. To estimate the costs of delivering the Compass FSS program, Abt used Compass and partner PHA expenditure reports and cost interviews to estimate per-participant program costs. To estimate costs and benefits to the PHA and participants of changes in income attributable to enrollment in the Compass FSS program, Abt used HUD administrative data and tax estimation software to estimate each cost and benefit item for each household in the experimental and control group. These findings indicate that, on average, every dollar spent by the local government and other funders of the Compass FSS program produces $2.25 dollars in benefits for participants.

To review the full reports, follow the links below.


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