Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. People Who Experience Long-Term Homelessness: Characteristics and Interventions. Recommendations for Future Research


The methodology of mental health services and housing research studies conducted over the past decade has grown increasingly more sophisticated. Several studies reported here illustrate the feasibility of conducting randomized controlled trials in real-world settings such as street outreach and engagement in housing and treatment support services (Shern et al., 2000), discharge planning and linking to community-based housing and treatment (Susser et al., 1997), assertive community treatment (Morse et al., 1997), and housing and treatment services (Rosenheck et al., 2003; McHugo et al., 2004). Fidelity measures have been developed to better describe an intervention and determine the degree to which a given program adheres to its critical elements. Strategies such as propensity scoring, which mimics randomization so that causal inferences can be facilitated, have been utilized when the study design is quasi-experimental (Siegel et al., 2006). Studies of housing programs that use lotteries to select tenants from a pre-screened pool of applicants can provide opportunities of de facto random assignment, with some homeless people randomly assigned to housing while others receive usual care but are likely to remain homeless (Martinez & Burt, 2006). Improved follow-up strategies have been implemented in longitudinal investigations to minimize attrition (Susser et al., 1997).

Despite these advances, empirical research on the efficacy of interventions targeted at chronic homelessness has lagged far behind the development of new interventions. As research on efforts to end chronic homelessness moves forward, a focus on the topics listed below would expand the science base on chronic homelessness.

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