The “Bright Futures” Program Helps Homeless Families Find Financial Independence

The Bright Futures program, a partnership of the City of Sioux Falls Community Development Affordable Housing Division and Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership, was created in 2011 to assist homeless and nearly homeless families with children. Since that time, 67 families have graduated from the program, and a recent study found that every $1 invested in the program yields a return of $8.36.

“The goal of this partnership is to help homeless families find a way to economic self-sufficiency. We want to empower households receiving rental assistance to make measurable strides toward financial independence,” says Les Kinstad, Affordable Housing Manager, City of Sioux Falls.

In the Bright Futures program, rental assistance for homeless and nearly homeless families with children comes with the expectation that participants progress through a detailed self-sufficiency plan, address and improve their life skills, secure employment, and become as independent of government assistance as possible. Participates receive intensive case management and are required to attend tenant education and parenting classes. At this time, 42 families are being served at any one time.

In the fall of 2017, the Augustana Research Institute was selected to evaluate the results of the program over its six-year life. During the winter of 2017–2018, a comprehensive analysis of the program and client outcomes was undertaken. The study compared five measures of well-being for homeless families who received both housing assistance and case management as compared to homeless families who received only housing assistance. The cost of providing this case management and rental assistance averaged $225,000 per year over six years.

• Return on Investment—Every $1 invested in Bright Futures yields a return of $8.36.
• Increased Earnings—After Bright Futures, graduating families earn, on average, $9,699 more per year, a total benefit of $649,833 per year.
• Reduced Reliance on Cash Benefits—Graduates reduce their reliance on cash benefits by $179 per month on average, a total benefit of $143,916 per year.
• Reduced Reliance on Rental Assistance—Graduates reduce their need for rental assistance by $151.59 per month on average, a total benefit of $121,878 per year.
• Increased Employment—Bright Futures graduates who received housing assistance plus case management are 50.4 times as likely to secure employment as those who received only housing assistance.
• Increased Material Well-being—Graduates leave the program materially better off, with an average increase in income of $8,423 annually net of reduced benefits.

Since 2011, the City has invested $1,320,000 in the program. The Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission administers the rental assistance portion of the program. Sioux Empire Housing Partnership currently provides the tenant education classes.

To see the full report on the Bright Futures program, go to

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