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Summer 1994
City Journal Summer 1994.
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  S oundings

The Price of Success
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The Job Training for the Homeless Demonstration Project is an unusual success in the world of federally supported programs to combat homelessness. Operating through twenty nonprofit community agencies in a dozen states, it has helped some eight thousand homeless. The clients have reported receiving personal kindness and attention from the staff, in contrast with the brusque and impersonal treatment they received from other government programs. A study of the program reported that the community agencies spent a modest $1,342 per person in training costs and that 34 percent of those who sought jobs through the community agencies found work—a low figure by ordinary standards but a high one for programs serving the homeless.

The Clinton administration likes the Jobs Training and Demonstration Project so well that it plans to copy its methods on a larger scale as part of a move to consolidate more than 150 separate federal employment and job-training programs. But the effect would be to put the successful program out of business, for the administration would subject the program to stringent regulations—restrictions that aim at limiting abuses and containing costs but will also hamper innovation and diminish the personal touch.

 

 


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