Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative launches first Summer Research Institute
Author: Stefanie Knowlton
Posted: June 24, 2019

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative is training the next generation of researchers to help solve homelessness at its Summer Research Institute. 

Eleven graduate students from Portland State University will hone their skills, review cutting-edge research and assist with project planning and data collection at the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative. 

The center, which opened last fall at Portland State University, addresses the challenges of homelessness through research of its root causes and solutions. Members represent nearly every school and college across campus, helping the center study homelessness from multiple disciplines.

 This week the center launched the Summer Research Institute for graduate students. Students were treated to Hot Lips pizza while they introduced themselves and talked about the work ahead. 

One student’s research on homelessness is already gaining national attention. Katricia Stewart conducted a study that found high self-esteem is a good predictor of well-being in youth experiencing homelessness, suggesting a need for services that go beyond the basics. The results were published in the Journal of Community Psychology and featured in news outlets including the Portland Tribune and Street Roots. 

This summer Stewart and her fellow students will help plan the center’s upcoming study of rates of homelessness and housing insecurity among PSU students and staff. They will also help interview service providers in the community and people experiencing homelessness to help inform the center's current and future research. 

Lauren Everett, a graduate student in Urban Studies, is excited about the chance to explore research on homelessness. The film school graduate will also work on storytelling projects including mini-documentaries that highlight those with lived experience. 

“I look forward to working on research that will change the narrative around houselessness,” Everett said.

Students will work to advance the center’s five core research areas including reducing homelessness at PSU, changing the narratives and creating action, innovative approaches that support people experiencing homelessness, housing as healthcare and policy/program evaluation.

Research Director Greg Townley is looking forward to working with students this summer. They bring new knowledge and insights, he said, and summer is a good time to collaborate.

“Summer provides more time for creativity and reflection,” he said, “and we thought it would be the perfect time to engage graduate students more actively in the center's work.”

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative launched the Institute thanks to a generous philanthropic gift from Tim and Mary Boyle. With this support, students will not only gain experience but also earn a summer paycheck. 

“The lessons students learn, and the experiences they have in the Summer Research Institute,” Townley said, “will set them up to be among the next generation of thinkers to help solve homelessness.”