Meeting the goals outlined in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness requires targeted investments in proven solutions. Years of research and evaluation have identified several evidence-based best practices for preventing and ending homelessness, and important research continues to be conducted throughout the Federal Government and across the nation. As we strive to expand and strengthen our knowledge base, there are still many areas—particularly for homeless subgroups such as unaccompanied youth—where research is needed to inform the policy-making process as well as to better understand best practices in the field.
In late 2011, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH, or the Council) assembled and reviewed over 200 studies on homelessness conducted between 1989 and 2011 and more than 30 additional studies by USICH member agencies that were in the implementation stage. These studies were mapped against the objectives and strategies in Opening Doors to help identify key gaps in our knowledge base. This research agenda highlights priority topics for new research within eight key domains:
• Affordable and supportive housing
• Cost offsets/cost effectiveness
• Homeless crisis response
• Homelessness prevalence and risk and protective factors
• Improving health, well-being, and stability
• Justice linkages
• Accessing mainstream benefits
• Pathways to employment
The Council hopes that both funders and researchers will use this agenda to guide their choices about future investments in research. The research questions provided are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative. In some cases, a single study may address all of the questions posed within a topic area, while in other cases, multiple studies may be required.
Although some of the topics will require a national or multi-site study, many of the proposed topics are important for local research and can have significant impact on local policy and funding decisions. As such, the Council encourages cities and counties across the country to partner with local universities and other interested organizations to undertake research on topics of particular policy relevance to their communities and to publicize local solutions so that other communities may benefit. (author abstract)