#2015APPAM: Student Summary: Breakfast Caucuses
By Alexis McLauchlan, MPP Student
University of Texas, Austin
The APPAM breakfast caucuses offered an excellent opportunity for personal conversations with researchers in the field. I sat in on one of the 16 sessions; each of the sessions is meant to prompt informal discussions on an emerging policy or management topic and is led by a moderator. These open discussions are designed to center around evolving research topics and invite feedback, questions, and promote discourse.
I sat at a table with Josh Kaufman-Horner of the Renewal Institute to discuss the Family Options Study on homelessness and the impact of the rapid re-housing initiative. Rapid re-housing is a program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides short-term to medium-term assistance to families at risk of becoming homeless or temporarily help those experiencing homelessness. The study followed families who were homeless and had been living in a shelter for at least 1 week. Rapid re-housing was one option offered to these families, in addition to vouchers or transitional housing.
The study found that families that were given the rapid re-housing intervention did not have better outcomes than families who were given no housing priority access. This study is important to show that although rapid re-housing is a lower cost intervention, it may not be the intervention many families need. Kaufman-Horner spoke about how rapid re-housing can often produce anxiety for families because it is such a short-term intervention. In addition, the rapid re-housing program is aimed at homelessness prevention, but homelessness is fairly difficult to predict.
The participants at the table all agreed that policy makers are not always using the research to make policy decisions. It is important to continue this research on homelessness and analyze which interventions are most effective for each population.