A Research Agenda for Ending Homelessness

April 21, 2020  |  Publications

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 Alliance decided to focus the Research Agenda to End Homelessness on highly relevant sub-populations of people experiencing homelessness:  

  • Older Adults: numbers among older adults experiencing homelessness are projected to skyrocket in the coming decade.  The research agenda poses questions on housing solutions paired with aging in place solutions, effectiveness of various types of housing for older adults, and how health conditions factor into housing situations.  
  • Unsheltered: While progress has occurred in critical areas, recent year growths in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness have been troubling. The research agenda includes questions about encampments, pet-friendly shelters, demographics, and street outreach methods.  
  • IndividualsIndividuals who are not chronically homeless, nor veterans, make up the majority of the homeless population. More research is needed to determine which approaches are best to house individuals, the effectiveness of right-to-shelter measures, and effectiveness of youth-oriented approaches.  
  • Families: Families experiencing homelessness, including children and youth, are always a societal priority. Though family homelessness has gone down recently, there is a still a need to know how family-specific interventions are working.