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Spotlight On: Housing and Homelessness Evaluation and Technical Assistance in California

Housing and Homelessness Evaluation and Technical Assistance in California

Abt has been at the forefront of research and technical assistance aimed at reducing and preventing homelessness for more than twenty years. We apply our research, analytic, and substantive expertise to help policymakers and practitioners understand the magnitude and causes of homelessness, and the impact and cost effectiveness of homeless assistance programs. With staff comprised of former community practitioners as well as experienced researchers, Abt offers a unique ability to blend our research capacities with a hands-on understanding of homelessness service delivery, housing development, and community planning.

Over the past decade, Abt has supported communities across California by providing evaluation, research, and technical assistance in the areas of housing and homelessness. The Abt team offers a unique combination of top-notch evaluation expertise, subject-matter expertise, and deep practical knowledge gained from years of experience planning and implementing housing and homelessness initiatives across the nation. Our evaluation experience spans the full spectrum—from qualitative research techniques to quantitative approaches.

housing expertise


Abt’s experts provide end-to-end technical support and innovative research and analysis to help states, governmental agencies, philanthropic and private sector partners, and local community organizations, achieve their goals. We bring:

  • Extensive knowledge of homeless services systems and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data.

  • Industry leaders in program evaluation, including conducting process studies, interviews, focus groups, literature reviews, case studies, cost studies, and environmental scans.

  • A commitment to working collaboratively with homeless service system providers, community stakeholders, and people with lived homelessness experience.

  • A detailed understanding of local, state, and federal policy and funding landscape.

  • Data capture and analytics, including survey design, sophisticated data collection, data integration with existing national and state level data sets, randomized controlled trials, and quasi-experimental designs.

  • Advanced data visualization for decision making.

housing relevant work

Select Technical Assistance Experience

Technical Assistance for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Client: HUD

Across California, Abt’s Technical Assistance experts, supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, work with communities to enhance their homeless service systems by providing tailored guidance and support for system planning, data analysis, grantee monitoring, and utilization of housing resources. In Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda County, Abt has been working with local agencies to develop a system’s model that will meet the crisis and housing needs of households experiencing both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. Further, a racial equity analysis was fully integrated into the planning process, which resulted in significant changes to address racial disparities in the experience of homelessness.

In Los Angeles County, Abt has been helping local agencies and community stakeholders use system-wide modeling to incorporate more comprehensive, accurate, and timely data in their system analysis. In addition, staff have engaged local providers and system partners in an assessment of the Coordination Entry System to enhance flow and functionality. Nationally, the Stella-P modeling tool is helping local communities plan and address capacity needs of their shelters.

Technical Assistance for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
Client: VA

Abt provides intensive, on-site technical assistance and remote support to help California communities strengthen their systems for serving veterans experiencing homelessness. Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veterans Families program—in partnership with the Technical Assistance Collaborative—we bring together local stakeholders to identify the key barriers to ending homelessness among veterans, and then create community-specific systems to overcome these barriers. Our support ranges from helping to develop systems that improve communities’ ability to understand local needs to providing guidance and training in the design and implementation of new policies and best practices.

Technical Assistance to the state of California
Client: California Interagency Council on Homelessness (CAL ICH)

Abt was contracted by Cal ICH in 2021 to support the implementation of the state’s Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS) and to provide subject matter and technical expertise. Abt played several roles throughout this contract, including development of the California System Performance Measures (CA SPMs), thought partnership and collaboration on various tools to support CoCs, and training support to Cal ICH and CoC staff. Additionally, under the HMIS data entry requirement under State Assembly Bill 977, Abt has delivered training and TA activities to California state departments and their grantees and other entities receiving state homelessness funding.

technical assistance

Select Evaluation Experience

Abt’s evaluations have informed national housing and homelessness policies for more than 50 years. At state and local levels, our experts partner with government leaders, communities and people with lived experience to ground California programs and services in the best evidence. Our California evaluations include:

Understanding Homeless Encampments across Los Angeles County
Client: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Homeless encampments are an increasingly prominent issue—on neighborhood streets, in parks, and adjacent to highways. Los Angeles officials, agencies, homeless services providers, and healthcare professionals want to understand the issues and how to implement more effective, coordinated solutions. In support to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Abt’s evaluation provides a comprehensive picture of the various strategies and protocols to address encampments throughout the county, as well as what is fundamentally needed to address the crisis.

California Statewide Homelessness Assessment
Client: Cal ICH

To understand the scope and nature of the homelessness challenge, the California Legislature passed a law in 2021 tasking Cal ICH to assess the state’s homelessness response system. This assessment included collecting the most accurate information possible so that decision-makers could use it to effectively apply unprecedented investments in the state’s efforts to end homelessness. In collaboration with the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley and USCF’s Benioff Institute for Housing and Homelessness, Abt partnered on research efforts to understand the scale and scope of homelessness in California. The study teamed released a series of reports and briefs in 2023.

Understanding the Costs of the Homeless Service System and its Responses
Clients: Various

Resources are precious, and agencies and departments work to ensure that funds are used wisely and effectively to address housing and homelessness needs. To build the evidence on innovative approaches and what works, Abt has led many cost analyses including:

Accelerating Permanent Supportive Housing
Abt conducted an evaluation to assess Los Angeles’ $120 million pilot program aimed at fostering the development of more permanent supportive housing.

Understanding Interim Housing Costs in L.A.
Interim housing (IH)—temporary beds in a shelter—provides emergency housing relief and supportive services to those who need it. However, reimbursement rates have not kept pace with total costs. Abt conducted a cost study on the IH portfolio across Los Angeles County.

Understanding the Costs of L.A. County’s Intensive Case Management Services Program
L.A. County’s Department of Health Services contracts with homeless service agencies to provide intensive case management services to people experiencing homelessness. Abt conducted a cost study to understand the real cost for agencies who administer this program.

Evaluating California’s Project Roomkey
Project Roomkey (PRK) was a statewide effort to protect people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic by giving them temporary shelter in motels and hotels. Sponsored by the California Health Care Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Abt has evaluated the program’s implementation, lessons learned, participants experiences, system collaboration, and housing outcomes of participants.

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Katie Kitchin

Katie Kitchin

State and Local Director, Housing & Asset Building


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