LEO’s Jim Sullivan Presents on Homelessness Prevention at the National Human Services Data Consortium 2017 Spring Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Author: Rachel Fulcher-Dawson

In April 2017, Jim Sullivan, Associate Professor of Economics and co-Founder of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), presented to practitioners and data administrators from across the country at the Spring Conference of the National Human Services Data Consortium (NHSDC) in Salt Lake City, Utah.    Dr. Sullivan and Padma Thangaraj from project partner All Chicago presented an overview of the Homelessness Prevention Call Center (HPCC) evaluation in Chicago.  LEO’s study demonstrated that the emergency financial assistance provided via the HPCC does in fact prevent recipients from entering homeless shelters for up to 2 years and is most effective for the lowest income callers.   This is an important finding, since nearly every major city in the U.S. runs a homelessness prevention hotline that helps those facing imminent homelessness find financial assistance and more than 15 million people call for these services in a given year.  The study also highlights for providers how data can be used to demonstrate the impact of a program and assess the costs and benefits. 

In working with NHSDC, Dr. Sullivan notes that, “LEO is committed to this kind of rigorous research that best demonstrates the impact of programs designed to help people in need.  But we are equally committed to getting this information out to providers on the front line who run these important programs.  Our information is meant to support their work and in scarce funding environments to allow program managers to prioritize programming based on what works best.”  As such, now that LEO has done its initial study demonstrating the impact of the HPCC on reducing homelessness, it is both extending this research to look at crime and health impact, and also sharing the message of the work with those who run the same kind of call centers across the country.  

As Jason Satterfield, Chair of the NHSDC Board of Directors, shares, “The NHSDC brings together communities from across the country twice a year to advance the dialogue around data-informed human services delivery.  Our mission is to help local communities effectively evaluate their current practices and invest deeper in interventions proven to work.”  He adds that, “LEO presented during our Spring 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, to a standing-room only crowd. The feedback from attendees on LEO’s session was overwhelmingly positive.  LEO shared insights, technical expertise, and, perhaps most important of all, vision and inspiration.  The Spring Conference was a smashing success thanks in very large part to LEO’s contributions.   We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate.”   

Find more on LEO’s work on Housing and Homelessness here.