Examples of Recent Work

Using Positive Psychology to Explain Shelter Use: A Study of Homeless Families in New York City Psychologists and economists have found that positive psychological capital leads to improvements in policy-relevant variables like academic achievement, income, and justice system recidivism; this is the first application of that framework to homelessness.  This study measures three positive psychological traits – hope, resilience, and self-control – among 276 families who entered shelter in New York City, and uses survival analysis models to examine their relationships with the number of days subsequently spent in shelter and whether families who exited shelter returned.  On an 8-point hope scale, a one-point increase is associated with a reduction of 35 shelter days and a one-point increase on a 5-point resilience scale reduced shelter use by 32 days.  A growing body of research suggests that increasing hope and resilience through low-cost, low-burden interventions may reduce total shelter use.  In addition, baseline comparisons to other populations suggest that homelessness is not associated with a deficiency of positive psychological attributes, which may be helpful in re-framing the discourse on factors associated with homelessness.

Identifying and Serving Veterans Accessing Community-based Homeless Services: A Study of Three U.S. Cities I examine the extent to which veterans in New York City, Los Angeles, and Columbus, OH that are using community-based shelters are (a) correctly identified as veterans and (b) using the VA services for which they are eligible.  The study finds that one-third of veterans are not correctly identified, meaning they are not referred to critical health and housing services provided through the VA.  Even worse, fewer than half of veterans using community-based shelters access VA homeless programs.  Improving veteran surveying strategies in local shelters and standardizing real-time data matching between VA and community shelters is likely to improve identification and, subsequently, service delivery.

Evaluating the Cost Effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Adults Summarizes and critiques the literature on the cost-effectiveness of permanent supportive housing (PSH), a housing intervention for chronically homeless individuals and families.  Evaluation research has demonstrated that high proportions – generally more than 80 percent – of those placed into permanent supportive housing units remain there for at least a year. Although the intervention does not appear to reduce substance abuse or mental illness, PSH is associated with decreases in the use of services associated with homelessness. In particular, housing decreased inpatient and emergency room usage and interactions with the criminal justice system. While the evidence is mixed on whether PSH produces net savings, at least a portion of public expenses are offset by these service use reductions.

Evaluation of the Homebase Community Prevention Program Through a randomized controlled trial, evaluates the success of Homebase, a community-based homelessness prevention program in New York City.  Families assigned to Homebase were about half as likely to enter shelter as those in the control group, and they spent fewer days homeless than their counterparts.

NYC's Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) I work with the City of New York on the sampling, logistics, and analyses of its annual point-in-time count of the unsheltered homeless population.  HOPE is recognized as among the most methodologically rigorous for its use of a stratified random sample to determine which parts of the city to survey as well its ShadowCount, in which "decoy" homeless individuals are placed in areas to be surveyed to ensure that enumerators are following procedures, and results are adjusted to account for missed decoys.