Homelessness Prevention Call Center - Shelter

Project Type: Housing

Project Stage: Completed

This is the first study that examines the direct impact of financial assistance on homelessness.

Chicago residents at risk of becoming homeless may call 311 to request temporary financial assistance. Callers are routed to the Homelessness Prevention Call Center (HPCC), which screens callers for eligibility and connects eligible callers with local funding agencies. The HPCC takes approximately 75,000 calls each year. Funding for financial assistance varies unpredictably over time. Depending on the factors at work on a given day, some eligible callers receive temporary financial assistance, while others do not. In order to understand the impact of this assistance on outcomes such as entry into a homeless shelter at 3, 6, and 12 months and number of days spent at a homeless shelter within 6 months of a call, LEO accessed administrative data from the HPCC. LEO then “linked” this HPCC data to administrative data from 50948 on entries into and exits from shelters. The evaluation showed that temporary financial assistance reduced entry into a homeless shelter by 76 percent at 6 months, and the effect persisted a year after contacting the HPCC. 

It is very common for nonprofit and government agencies to provide financial assistance to prevent homelessness. This is the first study that examines the direct impact of financial assistance on homelessness.

  Full Article in Science
     Policy Brief  (118k)
     Infographic  (80k)
     NSF Award  (77k)

Follow the news coverage of this research with the articles below.

Emergency Financial Aid from Hotlines Helps Prevent Homelessness, PsychCentral, 14 Aug 2016

A bit of cash can keep someone off the streets for 2 years or more, Science, 11 Aug 2016

The Economics of Homelessness, WGN Radio, 12 Aug 2016

Emergency financial aid from call centers effectively prevents homelessness, Phys.org, 11 Aug 2016

Just $1,000 in Cash Assistance Can Keep a Person From Being Homeless for Two Years, Care2, 14 Aug 2016

How $1,000 Can Affect Homelessness, ATTN:, 12 Aug 2016

Lack of State Funding Jeopardizes Program that Prevents Homelessness, Windy City Times, 16 Aug 2016

Lack of State Funding Jeopardizes Future of Program that Prevents Homelessness, Lawndale News, 18 Aug 2016

No state funding for a program that works, Capitol Fax.com, 19 Aug 2016

Study Shows Why Chicago Homeless Prevention Programs Need State Funding, WBEZ Chicago, 25 Aug 2016

It's Easy To Prevent Homelessness, Just Give People Money to Pay Rent, Fast Company, 19 Aug 2016

How $1K Can Keep Someone Off the Streets for Two Years, Sustainable Brands, 5 Sep 2016

Cash grants to people with unexpected bills successfully prevents homelessness, BoingBoing, 12 Aug 2016

Lack of State of Illinois Funding Jeopardizes Future of Program that Prevents Homelessness, eNews Park Forest, 15 Aug 2016

Targeted cash assistance can help people avoid homelessness, study finds, St. Louis Review, 22 Sep 2016

Groundbreaking study shows homelessness prevention works, Voices of Charity Radio Hour, 1 Nov 2016

Emergency Cash Funding Can Prevent Homelessness, The Solutions Journal, Jan 2017

A bit of cash can keep someone off the streets for 2 years or more, Upward Transitions, 11 Aug 2016

Featured in this Science Magazine Science Quiz, 15 Aug 2016

All Chicago

Non-profit Agencies

Catholic Charities Chicago

Non-profit Agencies