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Fighting to Prevent Homelessness

Fri Oct 16, 2020
Across America, service providers are doing great work to tackle the complexities of poverty, but there is little data to prove what’s working and why. Notre Dame's Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) helps service providers apply scientific evaluation methods to better understand and unleash effective poverty interventions.In 2012 Catholic Charities of Chicago approached LEO to assess its programming to determine if it was effectively keeping people off the streets. The problem, the charity explained, is that the success of call centers is often measured by the number of calls, rather than the number of people successfully kept in their homes. Could LEO researchers measure the call center’s effectiveness rather than volume?In 2016, Professor Bill Evans and his team found that people who received emergency funds from Catholic Charities were 76 percent less likely to become homeless, and to date, more than 700 families have been kept in their homes because of the program. This affirmative assessment proved the emergency grants were not just a temporary solution and were a cost-effective use of funds. Now other cities across the country are using Notre Dame’s work to inform their own strategies on homelessness prevention.Learn more: