J-PAL North America seeks to expand the base of rigorous evidence on strategies to reduce and prevent homelessness. In pursuit of this goal, the Homelessness and Housing Stability team partners with direct service providers to:
- raise policy-relevant research questions;
- bolster organizational capacity to design and implement randomized evaluations,
- generate evidence on innovative programs, and;
- utilize evidence to inform policy and decision-making.
In 2021, J-PAL North America launched the Bay Area Evaluation (BAE) Incubator with grant support from Google.org. The BAE Incubator focuses on implementing and evaluating cash transfer programs in conjunction with other services in order to assess their impact on homelessness and housing stability. Six leading Bay Area providers participated in trainings to increase their knowledge of rigorous impact evaluations, four of which are receiving technical support to design a randomized evaluation of their cash transfer programs.
Abode Services is one of the largest homeless housing and services providers in the Bay Area, serving Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Napa Counties. Abode Services works to end homelessness by assisting low-income, un-housed people, including those with special needs, to secure stable, supportive housing, and to advocate for the removal of the causes of homelessness. All of Abode Services' programs have been designed with a Housing First approach that aims to connect participants to housing as quickly as possible. Abode Services is partnering with J-PAL North America to develop an impact evaluation of adding cash transfers to rapid re-housing services, which provide short- and medium-term rental assistance and services to help people obtain housing quickly and increase self-sufficiency.
Brilliant Corners’ mission is to provide supportive housing to people who need it, including people experiencing chronic homelessness, transition age youth, veterans, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, high utilizers of public services, and those with a history of justice involvement. Their services include scattered-site and project-based rental assistance programs, housing development, property management, and intensive case management. In fiscal year 2021, Brilliant Corners placed 263 people experiencing homelessness into permanent supportive housing through the San Francisco Housing Platform. Brilliant Corners partnered with J-PAL North American to bolster their knowledge of and capacity to design randomized evaluations of their many programs.
Compass Family Services
Compass Family Services provides comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk families in San Francisco by partnering with them to find a housing solution and develop tools to secure positive outcomes for the whole family. Their programs focus on helping families to meet their housing, healthcare, childcare, education, employment, and mental health needs, while also removing underlying, recurring barriers to stability. Compass Family Services serves approximately 2,800 families ( over 7,500 individual children and parents) each year. Compass Family Services is partnering with J-PAL North America to evaluate the impact of tying cash transfers to one or more of their existing programs on outcomes related to housing stability.
Hamilton Families (HF) is a leading service provider in the Bay Area whose mission is to end family homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are partnering with J-PAL North America to evaluate the impact of adding cash transfers to their Rapid Re-Housing program. Rapid Re-Housing is an evidence-based solution to homelessness and housing instability that falls within the “Housing First” model, in which services are provided without preconditions. HF’s program provides participating families with safe and affordable housing, rental subsidies, and strengths-based case management. In FY20, HF’s Rapid Re-Housing program served a total of 640 families and successfully placed 199 families into permanent housing. The proposed evaluation would assess whether adding cash transfers to their Rapid Re-Housing program has an effect on long-term housing stability.
Larkin Street Youth Services
Larkin Street Youth Services is San Francisco’s largest nonprofit housing provider for young people experiencing homelessness. Since 1984, Larkin Street has assisted over 75,000 young adults through wraparound care. Their programs aim to help young people thrive and include outreach and engagement services, health and wellness, shelter and housing, and education and employment. In 2020, more than 1,100 young people in San Francisco slept on city streets or in shelters on any given night. The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated housing instability for these economically vulnerable youth. Larkin Street is partnering with J-PAL North America to rigorously evaluate the impact of cash transfers as a flexible safety net for youth experiencing homelessness.
Miracle Messages is a non-profit organization that helps unhoused people rebuild their social support systems and financial security, primarily through family reunifications, a phone buddy system, and direct cash transfers. Building on the success of a previous pilot of their direct cash transfer program (Miracle Money), Miracle Messages is interested in rigorously measuring the impact of unconditional cash transfers alongside social support provided through their Miracle Friends phone buddy program. J-PAL North America and Miracle Messages explored evaluation opportunities to measure the effect of the transfers and phone buddy program on housing status, financial stability, employment, relational poverty, as well as physical and mental health.