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HUD Secretary Comments on Study’s Role in Establishing Evidence on Ways to Reduce Homelessness

In 2016, the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a bold budget request to Congress: $11 billion dollars over ten years to reduce the number of families experiencing homelessness in America.

HUD’s request was based on clear evidence – gathered by Abt Global – that giving families priority access to housing voucher subsidies helps families more effectively than than other interventions aimed at reducing homelessness. This evidence was collected through the Family Options study, a three-year random assignment study that tracked families for 37-months.

Besides vouchers, the study examined three other interventions:

  • Community-based rapid re-housing that provides temporary rental assistance for  up to 18-months with limited supportive services;
  • Project-based transitional housing that provides temporary housing for  up to 24-months with intensive supportive services; and
  • Usual care, in which families did not receive priority access to any type of assistance but were free to pursue any housing or homeless assistance available in their communities.

“This study really is a landmark study in our long quest to eliminating homelessness in America and our understanding of how to be effective,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro said at a HUD briefing unveiling the Family Options final results in October. ”This can’t be something that just goes up on a shelf. It provides HUD a clear roadmap for future investments to more effectively reduce homelessness among families.”

Castro recognized the families and the team behind the research study, including Abt’s Michelle Wood, Daniel Gubits, Steve Bell and their partners. He also expressed gratitude to the families who shared their experiences and time over the three-year time span.

An Evidence-Based Roadmap on Homelessness
The final report outlines how families offered the long-term housing subsidy experienced significantly less homelessness and housing instability compared with families offered other types of assistance.

Among the key findings:

  • Long-term subsidies help keep families who are experiencing homelessness in stable housing;
  • Long-term subsidies educe food insecurity, intimate partner violence and school moves for children; and
  • Long-term subsidies help keep families out of shelters and off the street.

The final findings show a similar striking pattern of positive effects for access to long-term subsidies as was found after the initial 20-month study period.

Read more about Family Options.

Read more about Abt’s work in homelessness.