Teaching Case - Making the Case for Supportive Housing: Homelessness Research and Policies in New York City (A)

Making the Case for Supportive Housing: Homelessness Research and Policies in New York City (A)


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  • Product Description

    In the late 1990s, Dennis Culhane, a professor and social science researcher, launched a groundbreaking study of homelessness in New York City. Culhane set out to measure the services used by a large group of severely mentally ill homeless, and then to see how that service use changed once the group was placed in supportive housing--low-cost housing that included a range of medical and counseling services. The results, first released in 2001, were a boon for supportive housing advocates. According to the study, not only did service use plummet once the homeless individuals moved into supportive housing, but the savings from those service reductions almost covered the cost of the supportive housing itself. The research findings were widely cited, and figured prominently in a 2004 debate in New York over what role supportive housing should play in an ambitious plan to end chronic homelessness in the city. But even as the city considered dramatically expanding the stock of supportive housing, some policymakers questioned whether the cost savings indicated by the study could actually be realized, or whether supportive housing was just another important but costly tool for addressing the crisis of homelessness.

    Learning Objective:
    This two-part case study allows discussion of the impact of research on policymaking, as well as key issues in assessing the costs and benefits of social service programs, including whether social services can realize significant savings when demand exceeds supply; the political challenge of managing collaborative programs under which costs rise in some agencies but savings accrue elsewhere; and how specific populations served can affect costs and benefits.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: August 16, 2007
    HKS Case Number: 1874.0
    Case Author: Susan Rosegrant
    Faculty Lead: Mary Jo Bane
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 9
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Partial Funding provided by the Robert G. Wilmers Local and State Government Case Studies Fund."
    _year: 2000-2009
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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