In 2004, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) embarked on an innovative pilot program that aimed to assist families and individuals who were at-risk of becoming homeless. Known as Homebase, the homelessness prevention program quickly caught on− first expanding Citywide and now, viewed as a recognizable fixture in high-need communities throughout the five boroughs. Serving approximately 10,000 households each year, Homebase (and its measurable impact) has effectively transformed the field of homeless services in the City of New York− proving that the shelter system is not the only option. In June 2013, DHS reinforced this claim− announcing the positive findings from a first of its kind, scrupulous study, which meticulously examined the efficacy of the network.
With 15 store-front offices located Citywide, Homebase has, since its inception, aided nearly 50,000 households with customized assistance, personalized housing stability plans, and services such as eviction prevention, short-term emergency funding, financial counseling and help in obtaining employment and public benefits. While Homebase has continued to serve more and more families, the Department wanted to definitely know if the program was truly effective at preventing homelessness, and if it was a judicious use of City resources. The researchers answered both questions with a resounding, yes.
Conducted between 2010 and 2012 by Abt. Associates’ Dr. Howard Rolston, the random control study concluded that services delivered through Homebase are in fact successful at preventing homelessness, thereby allowing more families to remain stably housed in the community. Most notably, the study found that Homebase intervention cut shelter applications nearly in half and reduced the number of days that families spent in shelter by 70 percent. This saved New York City taxpayers− more than $1.25 for every City tax levy dollar invested. Furthermore, according to the study, Homebase prevented 650 families, or a total of 2,000 individuals, from entering the system last year− meaning that, without the presence of the program, DHS would have would have seen these households spend an average of 15,000 days in shelter and needed to open an additional 12 facilities of 55 families, each, to accommodate the demand.
Over the course of the last decade, Homebase has grown into an extensive and established network of homelessness prevention services− one that serves as a model for municipalities across the country. New York is the first locale to thoroughly examine the impact of prevention efforts, yielding data that will not only benefit the City, but the nation as a whole.
View the interview on NY1 with Commissioner Michele Ovesey regarding the DHS Homebase Evaluation:
Click here to download
Read the press release here.
View the power point presentation here.
View the Abt Associates report here.