Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
Prior to joining Abt, Wherley’s leadership and collaboration in housing services in Hennepin County led to the creation of Rapid Re-Housing, an intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly move from homelessness and return to permanent housing. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development invested $1.5 billion in replicating the model nationally, followed, in 2012, by the Department of Veteran Affairs. This model is now part of every Continuum of Care’s homelessness response system.
For her work, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) recently honored Wherley at their national conference in Washington, D.C., with their Meritorious Service Award for her work to end veteran homelessness.
“I was surprised and honored by this award,” Wherley said. “I believe that Rapid Re-Housing is an essential strategy to end the crisis of homelessness for solo adults and families. It’s what people want and need: a clear focus on immediate access to housing.
“Once that is secured, people can decide for themselves what they want and need—and the supports are there to help them achieve their own goals,” Wherley said.
A Local Strategy is Adopted Nationally
The success of Hennepin’s Rapid Re-Housing in reducing the length of stay in shelter, increasing exits from homelessness to permanent housing, and reductions in recidivism captured the attention of federal funders and homeless service providers.
Wherley and other public and nonprofit staff and advocates took a new approach to helping homeless families achieve permanent housing. The Hennepin program helped families move out of shelter and into permanent housing through temporary financial assistance, landlord partnerships and a Housing First case management model designed to resolve the housing crisis. Today, this approach is one of the critical strategies needed to end homelessness.
“This award is well deserved. Marge ended up transforming the homeless assistance field and has contributed to ending homelessness for literally thousands of households over the past 25 years,” said Abt Associate Principal Associate and colleague Matt White.
Learn more about Abt's work in housing & communities.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.