The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has released its National Research Agenda: Priorities for Advancing Our Understanding of Homelessness. USICH reviewed the available research on homelessness and compared it with the goals and objectives contained in Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and Homelessness, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness (see Memo, 6/25/10). The research agenda notes that “the lack of affordable housing for extremely low income households is a primary cause of homelessness, particularly for families with children.”
In its report, USICH identified gaps in research in eight key areas: affordable and supportive housing; cost offsets/effectiveness; homeless crisis response; homelessness prevalence and risk and protective factors; improving health; well being and stability; justice linkages; accessing mainstream benefits; and pathways to employment.
Within the affordable and supportive housing area, USICH concluded that the following topics warrant further research:
- Income targeting in federal mainstream affordable housing programs.
- Impact of Olmstead on efforts to end chronic homelessness.
- Permanent supportive housing models.
- Appropriateness of housing models for veterans.
- Effect of public housing agency administrative policies on homelessness.
- Addressing homelessness through project basing of Housing Choice Vouchers.
- Impact of permanent supportive housing on neighborhoods.
Key topics in other areas include how to better target homelessness prevention dollars, how to most effectively address the prevalence of homelessness in rural areas, and how to better identify veterans at risk of experiencing homelessness through more detailed research.
USICH notes that “although some of the topics will require a national or multi-site study, many of the proposed topics are important for local research and can have significant impact on local policy and funding decisions. As such, the Council encourages cities and counties across the country to partner with local universities and other interested organizations to undertake research on topics of particular policy relevance to their communities and to publicize local solutions so that other communities benefit.”
To read USICH’s Research Agenda, go to http://1.usa.gov/WVgE3T.