To better quantify the impact of its work with tenants, Minnesota’s HOME Line, an NLIHC member, partnered with the University of Minnesota for a statistical analysis of data gathered during follow-up interviews with callers to its tenant hotline. The results have given the organization substantiated evidence that its work has saved tenants millions of dollars and prevented thousands of evictions.
Since 1992, HOME Line’s hotline has offered housing counseling and legal advice on such issues as home repairs, evictions, security deposits, foreclosures, and breaking leases. In 1998, it fielded 5,000 calls; by 2008, the number grew to nearly 11,000 calls.
Given grantors’ and government’s increased desire for outcome-based reporting, HOME Line last year decided to devote significant time to estimating its impact. It partnered with the University of Minnesota for a doctoral candidate to conduct the statistical analysis. Prior to that time, HOME Line staff and volunteers conducted follow-up interviews with clients only as time and resources allowed. The data analysis incorporated estimated outcomes of those not contacted based on multiple similarities with those who were. The analysis found that HOME Line had vastly underestimated its impact.
HOME Line previously reported that its advice allowed tenants to recover $500,000 in security deposits and $740,000 in rent abatements, and prevented 2,851 evictions since 1992. The new data analysis found that this work actually resulted in the recovery of $5.4 million in security deposits, $10 million in rent abatements, and 8,700 prevented evictions. These findings were statistically significant and the total money recovered by hotline callers was estimated at $17.7 million when adjusted to 2010 dollars. The analysis also found that callers who followed HOME Line’s advice were more likely to have repair issues resolved and a larger portion of their security deposit returned.
“As advocates, we knew the importance of data collection to quantify the impact of our work,” said Michael Dahl, HOME Line’s public policy director. “Despite our limited staff time and resources, by working with the university we found a local resource capable of providing the time and expertise necessary to show how much our work matters. These findings show how much impact tenant protections have on the lives of renters and the difference those laws make when tenants are educated about their rights.”
For more information: Michael Dahl, HOME Line, firstname.lastname@example.org