LEO earns $750,000 in funding awards to support continued anti-poverty work

Author: Leigh Lynes

The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame has received multiple funding awards totaling nearly $750,000 this summer to continue its work reducing poverty and improving lives through evidence-based programs and policies.

LEO has received $350,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This grant supports LEO’s rigorous measurement of the impact of an innovative rapid rehousing program for homeless adults in Santa Clara County, California. LEO’s research will identify the effects of temporary rental assistance and case management support on outcomes related to housing stability, health, crime, employment, and reliance on public benefits.

“NSF has made a crucial investment in our work, “said Professor David Phillips, LEO research faculty and co-leader of the study. “Despite its affluence, Santa Clara County has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation. We are grateful to NSF for partnering with us to hone in on all the ways stable housing could impact the life of someone experiencing homelessness, as well as the specific group of people who will benefit most from this sort of intervention.”

LEO also received a combined $300,000 from J-PAL North America, a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action LAB (J-PAL) based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to support work on two initiatives. In Franklin County, Ohio, LEO is working with local partners to evaluate the impact of supportive housing on former inmates. LEO is studying the program’s impact on housing stability, emergency room visits, healthcare costs, public benefit use, and recidivism.

Funding from J-PAL also supports LEO’s evaluation of a youth and family homelessness prevention initiative in partnership with King County, Washington. LEO’s research evaluates the effectiveness of two different approaches to homelessness prevention – a combined program of case management and flexible funds, and stand-alone immediate financial assistance. 

The Institute for Research on Policy (IRP) awarded $99,491 to support a second project that LEO is conducting with University of California, Irvine. The project, in King County, Washington, studies the effects of transit subsidies for low-income individuals on outcomes related to employment, education, and access to social services.

“We are excited about and thankful for this external support for our research projects,” said Jim Sullivan, co-founder of LEO and the Gilbert F. Schaefer College Professor of Economics at Notre Dame. “It allows us to continue generating evidence about what works to move people out of poverty. In turn, this evidence empowers service providers to extend real help and hope to individuals and families who are working hard to break free of poverty’s grasp.”