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Jan 16 -- The Office of Community Services (OCS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is requesting expedited review of an information collection request from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and inviting public comments on the proposed collection. The Affordable Housing and Supportive Services Demonstration was appropriated by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2023 through the Social Services Research Demonstration program (SSRD). The House report language directs ACF to provide a report on the findings of this demonstration within 1 year after grants are awarded. Comments due by March 25, 2024. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on February 23.]

The Affordable Housing and Supportive Services Demonstration program provides federal funding to Community Action Agencies (CAAs) and tribes that received Community Services Block Grant funding in FY23 and own their own affordable housing units. Award recipients are using funds to strengthen, expand, and enhance wraparound supportive services available to affordable housing residents to increase stability, economic mobility, and well-being. These services may include educational opportunities for youths and adults; afterschool and/or summer programs for children and teens; early child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, or other early childhood education programs/opportunities for young children ages 0 to 5; older adult care services; mental health, alcohol, and addiction services; services for individuals with disabilities; self-sufficiency resources; resources on future homeownership; financial literacy training; transportation services for residents; referrals and connections to resources to help meet concrete needs; and health care services.

This program was appropriated in HR 117-403, Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2023 through the Social Services Research Demonstration program (SSRD). The House report language directs the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to provide a report on the findings of this demonstration within one year after grants are awarded.  

The House report language states, “Support Services at Affordable Housing.--The Committee includes $3,000,000 for a demonstration program to provide funding to owners of affordable housing properties to offer supportive services for their residents, including after-school programs for children and teenagers; education opportunities for youth and adult residents; mental health, alcohol and addiction treatment; self-sufficiency resources; resources on future home ownership; financial literacy training; elderly care; assistance to residents with disabilities; and other community services. The Committee requests a report one year after award of such grants on the findings of this demonstration program.”  

OCS awarded grants for the Affordable Housing and Supportive Services Demonstration on September 29, 2023. Given this Congressional directive, OCS has prepared data collection instruments to study the implementation of this demonstration program with the intent to produce a robust report to Congress. . . . OCS is requesting emergency OMB approval of this data collection to ensure we can accommodate the Congressional request for a report on the findings of this demonstration within 1 year.

OCS is hoping to center the study around three main research categories—implementation of supportive services in affordable housing, changes in participant access to supportive services in affordable housing, and overall participant experience and outcomes along several variables of interest. Ultimately, OCS hopes to illustrate how supportive services are implemented in affordable housing spaces by program directors and caseworkers, and also demonstrate participant experiences accessing those services in the affordable housing setting, as well as which services and supports worked to improve resident well-being and overall self-sufficiency. To answer these research questions, OCS will engage in the following activities:

-- Collecting program official, caseworker, and resident beneficiary level data from the Affordable Housing and Supportive Services Demonstration.
-- Conducting interviews with program officials and caseworkers that administer the supportive services to residents living in affordable housing units to better understand their program implementation efforts and responses to resident needs.
-- Conducting focus groups with beneficiary residents to understand their needs and experiences with the supportive services offered in their affordable housing residence.
-- Administering a self-sufficiency matrix to beneficiary residents to assess any change or improvement in beneficiary resident reporting of overall self-sufficiency and wellbeing, which is measured using several indicators, with the receipt of additional supportive services in the affordable housing setting.

There will be three types of respondents to the proposed instruments. First, the direct beneficiaries living in the residential housing communities will respond to instruments 1, 2, and 3. Second, the program directors/administrative staff will respond to instruments 4, 5, 6, and 7. Finally, the caseworkers providing direct support to beneficiaries will respond to instrument 8. Caseworkers may also be asked to support the implementation and administration of instruments 1, 2, and 3.

OCS Affordable Housing and Supportive Services Demonstration: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/ahssd
OCS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202401-0970-016 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-00648

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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