Dr. Beth Shinn, Professor and Chair, Department of Human & Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University will give the Edith Sullivan Distinguished Psychology Departmental Colloquium:
"Efficient targeting of homelessness prevention services for families"
May 20, 4-5:30 p.m.
Abstract: If prevention services are to reduce rates of homelessness they must prevent homelessness among some people who would otherwise enter that state, and they must be delivered to people who are in fact likely to become homeless. Getting services to the right people may be the harder task. This talk describes the creation of a model to target prevention services more efficiently among applicants to New York City’s HomeBase prevention programs. We followed 11,105 families who applied for these community-based homelessness prevention services from 2004 to 2008 over the next three years in City records to determine which ones subsequently entered shelter. Based on survival analysis, we developed a short screening model which the City is now using to decide who should receive services. Offering services to the same proportion of families during the period under study but selecting them according to the model would have increased the correct targeting of families entering shelter by 26% and reduced misses by almost two thirds. There was no evidence that some families were too risky to serve. A parallel model for childless adults looks rather different. Thus models need to be developed for specific locations and populations, at least until we have a number of locally-developed models and can examine commonalities and differences. Implications for work with homeless populations in the local community will be discussed.