Learn About our Previous Projects

Case Study of Coordinated Entry in King County, WA

We conducted a qualitative case study of the Coordinated Entry for All (CEA) system for single adults experiencing homelessness in King County, WA. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research and aimed to: 1) understand CEA procedures step-by-step from coordinated assessment through housing placement, 2) identify ways in which CEA has helped facilitate housing placements for single adults, 3) identify challenges that have emerged in CEA implementation, and 4) explore whether perspectives on the benefits and challenges of the CEA system differ across key stakeholder groups. To achieve these aims, we conducted interviews and focus groups with a range of stakeholders, including individuals experiencing homelessness who interacted with the CEA system, service providers, and local leadership.

Co-Principal Investigator: Rachel Fyall, Ph.D., University of Washington, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

Consultant: Sam Tsemberis, Ph.D., Pathways Housing First

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Reliability and Validity of the VI-SPDAT

Within coordinated entry systems, the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) is often used as the primary coordinated assessment measure to prioritize and allocate scarce housing services to individuals in need of housing. Using Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data, we conducted the first independent research study of the VI-SPDAT’s measurement properties, including its reliability and validity.

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Why is research on coordinated assessment tools important?

Coordinated assessment instruments are the foundation of coordinated entry centralized housing waitlists. Without a strong foundation, the aim of efficient and effective prioritization of housing resources will not be achieved. For coordinated entry to function as intended, assessments must be valid, reliable, and ensure equitable access to housing.

Predictors of Re-Entry to Homeless Services Following HPRP Assistance

In an evaluation funded by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention in Indianapolis, IN, we examined long-term outcomes of individuals and families who received assistance through the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP). Using Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) data, we aimed to identify individual and program-level predictors of housing placement and re-entry to homeless services following HPRP assistance over a 3.5-year follow-up period.

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An Examination of Barriers to Housing Among Individuals with Extensive Shelter Histories

In collaboration with two Chicago-based homeless service providers, we conducted a qualitative study to understand housing goals and barriers to housing among individuals who have consistent shelter stays of three years or more. In light of the proliferation of low barrier supportive housing options for individuals who experience chronic homelessness, the current literature has not adequately explored the barriers to housing among those who remain unwilling, or unable, to transition into available housing options. Service providers and individuals who are long-term shelter stayers were interviewed in this study.

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Trauma-Informed Care in Homeless Services

The goal of Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is to provide care that acknowledges the trauma of individuals who are being serviced as well as providers by creating a safe, understanding, and empathetic environment. Main principles of TIC include awareness of trauma, emphasis on safety, providing opportunities to rebuild control, and utilizing a strengths-based approach. TIC has gained significant momentum in mental health and addiction services, but less research has focused on TIC implementation in homeless services; an issue of unique importance given the high prevalence of trauma experienced among the homeless population combined with services largely staffed by paraprofessionals who may not possess foundational knowledge of the sequelae of trauma. As such, we conducted a qualitative study on the process of implementing a TIC model at a homeless service provider in Chicago through the lens of both staff and program participants.

Housing First for Chronically and Non-Chronically Homeless Adults

This study examined outcomes of a single-site Housing First program located in an urban city in Washington state compared to a usual care matched control group. Those residing in the program were eligible for housing because they either a) experienced chronic homelessness, or b) had histories of high utilization of psychiatric inpatient or emergency services and/or difficulty engaging in outpatient mental health treatment. Results revealed that tenants spent fewer days homeless and in inpatient psychiatric treatment compared to the comparison group, and outcomes were equivalent for those with and without chronic homelessness histories. A second study examined housing satisfaction among the tenants of the single-site housing model. As Housing First interventions are most often provided to individuals who meet the federal definition of chronic homelessness, findings from this study provide support for an expansion of funding streams for Housing First as an alternative to more restrictive settings for individuals living with mental illness who are potentially vulnerable to chronic homelessness.

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Evaluation of a Homeless Shelter Referral and Waitlist Policy

In an effort to increase continuity of service engagement, and therefore access to housing and employment opportunities, many homeless shelter services have shifted implementation away from nightly lotteries to models providing individuals time-limited stays. One notable challenge of a time-limited homeless shelter policy is that it often creates lengthy waiting lists to enter the shelter, which may create barriers to access for some individuals. We conducted a study funded by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues that explored shelter-seekers’ perspectives on the shelter waitlist and whether individuals who entered the shelter from the waiting list differed on psychosocial factors from those who were removed from the waiting list for procedural reasons and did not access the shelter.

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Family Homelessness Systems Integration Evaluation

Led by Dr. Danielle Vaclavik, HARC Lab collaborated with Chicago-based homeless and behavioral health service providers on a network analysis assessment for their systems integration (SI) intervention, a planning coalition designed to support their Frequent User Service Engagement (FUSE) program for families with young children experiencing homelessness. SI involves coordination and communication among providers across service sectors working together to achieve common goals. The FUSE planning coalition was formed to identify and address barriers to resources and gaps in services accessed by FUSE clients. Results were used to guide recommendations for the coalition’s action plan. Further,  the evaluation established a network baseline to evaluate the success of the coalition over the duration of the project. This project was funded by the Society for Community Research and Action.

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