Dana Cowan lived in the Gilmor Homes public housing community in 1999, working a job with irregular hours that didn't pay enough to support her two children.
Through Jobs Plus, a federally funded program that helps connect residents with employment, education and financial literacy, she got a job with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. She and other residents in the program were also offered work clothing if they didn't have it.
Seventeen years later, she still works at the housing authority as a Section 8 inspector, and the program helped her get her GED, her driver's license, her first car and a new apartment.
"I love my job," said Cowan, 46. "At...