Increasingly, the federal government invests in cost-effective and outcome-oriented programs. To date, homelessness assistance programs have been able to make the case that the federal funding they receive is effectively and efficiently serving the most vulnerable people. Moving forward, the field will have to continue to prove that interventions are ending homelessness for target populations in a cost effective way. To do so, rigorous evaluation of program models and outcomes is required.
The purpose of the Research Agenda to End Homelessness is to better inform funders, both private and public, about research questions that will help make policy and practice more effective. The Agenda was developed under the guidance of the Alliance’s Research Council, a group of leading academic and policy researchers. The Agenda is not an exhaustive list of research questions, but rather a list of prioritized questions: those that are the most pressing given the evolving nature of homelessness as a social issue and those that will answer specific policy or practice concerns.
The research agenda is divided into three categories:
- The Scope and Demographics of Homelessness- The ability to clearly describe the scope and characteristics of the homeless population and various subpopulations is essential to designing interventions as well as securing resources to scale. As homelessness is an evolving issue, research questions in this section will primarily focus on determining details of specific subpopulations, especially those that are newly emerging or growing.
- The Efficacy of Interventions – The varying effectiveness of interventions to end homelessness for households and individuals will help determine resource allocation and proper targeting. It is also essential to inform public and private funders of which programs provide the greatest return on investment. Research questions on this section will primarily focus on evaluation and comparison of currently utilized program models and designs.
- System Planning and Infrastructure- As communities across the country embark on system-level planning required by current federal policy, questions as to the most effective methods for creating and implementing this infrastructure will surely arise. Research questions in this section will work to answer those questions for communities.