August 2002

Grant Results


The Community Builders (TCB), a nonprofit real estate services organization in Boston, replicated a low-income housing model in Worcester, Mass. The model, Plumley Village, integrated health and human services with property management.

Starting in late 1995, TCB focused on human services, integrating health services through links established with outside providers.

Key Results

  • TCB established four demonstration sites that integrated human services with property management. They also enhanced programs at Plumley Village. The demonstration sites were:
    • South Holyoke Properties (Holyoke, Mass.)
    • Kensington Square Apartments (New Haven, Conn.)
    • Egleston Square (Boston)
    • Villas Del Caribe (Philadelphia)
  • TCB integrated the community initiatives function into its organizational structure.
  • It obtained an independent evaluation of human service programs across sites.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided partial support for the project with a grant of $495,000 from December 1995 to August 1999.

Other funders collaborating on the project were: the Pew Charitable Trusts ($1,200,000), the Ford Foundation ($300,000) and the Boston Foundation ($150,000).

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
 Back to the Table of Contents


Low-income housing represents a confined geographical area where problems of health care access, safety, and substance abuse are often highly concentrated. By 1995, there was a growing recognition of the need to integrate health and human services into such developments, but there were few successful models to follow.

In the early 1990s, TCB, a Boston, Mass.-based, nonprofit real estate services organization, created such a model at a low-income housing project, Plumley Village, in Worcester, Mass., which has approximately 1,600 residents (primarily single mothers and their children) living in 430 units of subsidized housing. On-site health services include a primary care and WIC clinic (the federal Women, Infants, and Children nutritional supplements and counseling program); mental health; teen pregnancy prevention; and health education for youth.

These services are linked to other support for families, such as youth development (helping youth develop leadership skills, form healthy relationships, make good decisions, etc.), job training, and parent education.

Based on residents' perceptions, decreases over time in costs for property repair, decreases in police calls, etc., TCB found a reduction in violence, alcohol and illegal drug abuse, crime, vandalism, teen pregnancy, and school dropouts at Plumley Village.

RWJF recognized that privately owned housing projects such as Plumley Village offered a way to test ideas on a larger scale to improve health outcomes in low-income areas. In related work, in 1993 RWJF awarded a $1 million grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in New York, N.Y., to foster health and social services leadership among community development corporations (ID# 021364).

From 1997 to 2001, RWJF was a member of the National Community Development Initiative, a partnership of some of the largest foundations (including The Pew Charitable Trusts), banks, insurance companies, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to develop community projects (e.g., affordable housing, child care facilities, health centers, etc.) in 23 distressed cities nationwide.

Under this initiative, RWJF awarded the LISC two grants (ID#s 031856 and 042826) for a total of $3.5 million over seven years and the Enterprise Foundation two grants (ID#s 030602 and 042828) for a total of $3.5 million over seven years.

 Back to the Table of Contents


This grant from RWJF provided partial support to TCB to replicate the Plumley Village model, integrating health and human services with property management at four demonstration sites. The project was also to develop a system to support expanded management, as well as a system to evaluate the effectiveness of the new model.

Under this grant, TCB focused on human services, integrating health-related services through links established with outside providers. To develop a standard framework for implementing the integration of five human service areas, TCB subcontracted with the following individuals: Bill Link, an organization development and human resource development consultant (Springfield, Va.); Judy Silber, an education and youth development issues consultant (Chevy Chase, Md.); and Lizbeth Schorr, director of the Harvard Project on Effective Interventions and a consultant on effective interventions with families and children (Washington, D.C.).

HHS, a New York, N.Y.-based human services consulting organization, and its subcontractor, Behavior Analysis, a Cambridge, Mass., independent evaluation firm, evaluated TCB's human services program, which consisted of a documentation study that described the program and an impact evaluation that assessed the program's effectiveness.

Other Funding

RWJF collaborated with The Pew Charitable Trusts, which served as the lead funder ($1,200,000); the Ford Foundation ($300,000) and the Boston Foundation ($150,000) also supported the project.

 Back to the Table of Contents


According to the project director's report to RWJF and the interim evaluation report submitted by HHS and Behavior Analysis, The Community Builders Human Services Demonstration: Interim Evaluation Report, TCB accomplished the following:

  • Established four demonstration sites that integrated human services with property management and enhanced programs at the model site:
    • South Holyoke Properties/Neuva Esperanza (Holyoke, Mass.). TCB (developer) and property owner Neuva Esperanza (a community development corporation) coordinated human services programs for youth (a leadership program called YouthRap, an after-school and summer program), safety and security (a neighborhood watch program), and education (beginner computer classes, voter registration activities). TCB also worked to connect residents with an off-site health clinic.
    • Kensington Square Apartments (New Haven, Conn.). TCB (owner) established several human services programs, such as an after-school program and a job posting board, focusing on coordinating program delivery with neighborhood providers. TCB worked with nearby St. Raphael's Hospital's job training program so that residents seeking employment would obtain health screenings in the process, which led to connecting them with children's health insurance and child immunization programs, etc.
    • Egleston Square/Urban Edge (Boston, Mass.). After an initial delay in the project, TCB (developer) and Urban Edge conducted a needs assessment; developed an integrated referral process and held three training sessions for property management staff; opened a Resident Resource Center; addressed the issue of mice control; and coordinated an after-school and summer program with the YMCA and recruited resident youth. TCB also worked to connect residents with a large, nearby health clinic; however, most of the health-related activity focused on coordination of health services for the elderly (blood pressure screenings, transportation to the clinic, etc.).
    • Villas Del Caribe/Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (Philadelphia, Pa.). TCB (developer/property manager) developed a site plan for human services that was approved for funding by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. TCB coordinated implementation of the plan, which included a children's summer camp; completion by 12 residents of an Operation Town Watch training program and provision of office space to implement a neighborhood watch program; a monthly support and education group for up to 40 women that focuses on topics such as domestic violence, child development, etc.; a computer center with basic computer classes; and an art expression program for seniors.
    • Plumley Village (Worcester, Mass.): TCB (owner) substantially increased human services that focus on basic skills enhancement, workplace readiness skills (particularly in health care, through collaboration with St. Vincent's Hospital), education, and youth development. They include English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, classes for obtaining the General Equivalency Diploma (GED); computer classes; a teen pregnancy prevention program; and an on-site medical clinic. The education program operates in concert with a local workforce development program (Project Match). According to an RWJF program officer, CBI not only integrated health and social services at Plumley Village, but they transformed the reality of living in the community for residents and other members of the community. Through a combination of efforts focused on "community building" — including towing away abandoned vehicles; planting community gardens and giving each residence a "green space" to care for; having a health clinic on site, recruiting the police to run recreation programs on site — they changed Plumley from a run-down, poorly maintained site rife with gang activity and crime to one where children and infants (with their parents) played outside during the daytime — an activity that previously was unsafe due to gangs. Almost every unit had a small green lawn with flowers growing. Reported rates of vandalism (broken windows, paint, etc.) had been decreased dramatically based on police reports. Measures of health access were up due to the clinic on site. People were open and friendly during an RWJF site visit; and members of the resident's committee spoke of how dramatically things had changed.
  • Integrated the community initiatives function into TCB's organizational structure. For example, the senior vice president is part of TCB's leadership team, and human services positions align with and link to positions in other key departments.
  • Developed an outcomes-based measurement system to assess the performance of human service programs across sites. The measurement system's database catalogues preliminary baseline data,operating statistics, and demographic profiles for TCB sites with human services activities. The measurement system provides a structure for property managers and resident service coordinators to develop and report site-specific goals. It allows TCB to track and assess individual site programs, create a consistent structure for the service integration program across sites and at new sites; measure the programs' social and economic impact; and assess how the service integration program improves property management.
  • Obtained an independent evaluation of the performance of human service programs across sites. The interim evaluation report noted that TCB, during the RWJF grant period, received a grant to manage five HUD Hope VI sites (January 1996 through September 1999), in part as a result of its work on this project. (Hope VI is a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization effort.) The interim report included the following findings:
    • TCB's involvement with Hope VI shifted its attention away from the five RWJF sites and somewhat hindered progress toward integrating human services and property management. Despite the shift in focus, TCB made notable progress in human services integration efforts, as well as in expanding and improving the human services available to residents at the demonstration sites. Further, HOPE VI allowed TCB to test its human services strategy on a larger scale, one of RWJF's grant objectives.
    • The level of progress toward integrating human services with property management varied considerably from site to site. Evaluators reported that the acceptance of the human services component and its integration into TCB's broader, core neighborhood revitalization efforts depended largely on the individual people involved at the site (i.e., Resident Services Coordinator and Property Manager), funding resources, and other environmental factors. In contrast, there appeared to be a clear, strategically defined and centrally directed effort underway in TCB's larger, newly acquired properties to promote human services as a core component of TCB's revitalization efforts.
    • Surveys (1997 and 1998) of residents at South Holyoke, Kensington, and Plumley Village showed improvements in resident satisfaction with the availability of health services and alcohol-abuse treatment programs.
    • TCB developed a number of tools and procedures aimed at standardizing the functioning of human services staff across sites and aiding the integration of the Human Services and Property Management departments. These included a planning handbook and a planning form for site managers to use in developing and reporting objectives and tracking their progress.

In response to challenges identified in the interim report, such as reliance on a paper reporting system, excessive turnover of senior community initiatives staff, and lack of a plan for post-foundation support, TCB instituted:

  1. program management and cross-site teams;
  2. policies and procedures for property management and community initiatives to work together more effectively;
  3. Memoranda of Understanding to formalize site relationships with community organizations.

 Back to the Table of Contents


  1. Human services programs should prepare families to become self-sufficient. Human services programs that rely on referrals to entitlement and public benefit programs do not preparefamilies to become self-sufficient. Service delivery should be based upon plans that have community support, incentives and rewards, and a structure that helps participants succeed in housing, work, asset building, and community involvement.
  2. Fully integrating human services into low-income housing operations requires collaboration between the property owner and the property manager. Both partners must be committed to the mission and goals of an integrated service system. For example, a positive collaboration between TCB and one property owner enabled the property owner to assume responsibility for human services and maintain program funding.

 Back to the Table of Contents


Following the grant, HHS/Behavior Analysis completed a 36-month evaluation of TCB's human services program and is preparing a report. According to the project director, TCB has continued to refine and implement site-specific human services programming at Plumley Village and the four demonstration sites.

TCB also pursues funding for established programs such as workforce, employment, and youth development activities. The organization now manages 12 HUD Hope VI sites. TCB also developed a capital fund-raising plan geared toward foundations for site-specific community initiatives programs. Under a $250,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation in New York, N.Y., TCB is piloting a management information system that is aligned to HUD databases and designed to meet reporting requirements of HOPE VI.

 Back to the Table of Contents



Replication of a Health and Social Services Model for Low-Income Housing


The Community Builders, Inc. (Boston,  MA)

  • Amount: $ 495,000
    Dates: December 1995 to August 1999
    ID#:  026234


JoAnn Barbour
(617) 695-9595

 Back to the Table of Contents


(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)


Cutler I, Feldman R and Grinker W. The Community Builders Human Services Demonstration: Baseline Evaluation Report. New York, N.Y.: Human Service Solutions, April 1997.

Castro C, Baillargeon D, Cutler I, Feldman R and Grinker W. The Community Builders Human Services Demonstration: Interim Evaluation Report. New York, N.Y.: Human Service Solutions, April 1999.

Stokes T and Herr T. The Community Builders — Project Match Demonstration Program. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., June 1999.

Barbor J-A and Link B. Community Building Site Products. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., June 1999.

Costigan T and Silber J. The Community Builders — Youth Development Model Ages 11–19. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., June 1999.

Chausse D and Couglin B. Resident Services Coordination Supporting Resident Results. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., June 1999.

Coughlin B and Bader A. The Community Builders — Senior Services Products. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., September 1999.

The Community Builders, Inc., Property Management and Human Services — Roles, Responsibilities, Policies, and Procedures. Boston, Mass.: The Community Builders, Inc., 1999.

Survey Instruments

"Baseline Resident Survey at Plumley Village, TCB at Holyoke, and Kensington." Behavior Analysis, fielded September–October 1996.

"Follow-up Resident Surveys at Plumley Village, South Holyoke, and Kensington." Behavior Analysis, fielded July–November 1998.

 Back to the Table of Contents

Report prepared by: Lori De Milto
Reviewed by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Rush L. Russell
Program Officer: Jane Isaacs Lowe