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Spotlight On: Housing and Homelessness Evaluation and Technical Assistance in California

Housing and Homelessness Evaluation and Technical Assistance in California

Abt Associates has been at the forefront of research and technical assistance aimed at reducing and preventing homelessness for more than twenty years. We apply our research, analytic, and substantive expertise to help policymakers and practitioners understand the magnitude and causes of homelessness, and the impact and cost effectiveness of homeless assistance programs. With staff comprised of former community practitioners as well as experienced researchers, Abt offers a unique ability to blend our research capacities with a hands-on understanding of homelessness service delivery, housing development, and community planning.

Over the past decade, Abt has supported communities across California by providing evaluation, research, and technical assistance in the areas of housing and homelessness. The Abt team offers a unique combination of top-notch evaluation expertise, subject-matter expertise, and deep practical knowledge gained from years of experience planning and implementing housing and homelessness initiatives across the nation. Our evaluation experience spans the full spectrum—from qualitative research techniques to quantitative approaches.

housing expertise


Abt’s experts provide end-to-end technical support and innovative research and analysis to help states, governmental agencies, philanthropic and private sector partners, and local community organizations, achieve their goals. We bring:

  • Extensive knowledge of homeless services systems and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data.

  • Industry leaders in program evaluation, including conducting process studies, interviews, focus groups, literature reviews, case studies, and environmental scans.

  • A commitment to working collaboratively with homeless service system providers, community stakeholders, and people with lived homelessness experience.

  • A detailed understanding of local, state, and federal policy and funding landscape.

  • Data capture and analytics, including survey design, sophisticated data collection, data integration with existing national and state level data sets, randomized controlled trials, and quasi-experimental designs.

  • Advanced data visualization for decision making.

housing relevant work

Relevant Work

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative Evaluation
Client: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Since September 2011, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has worked to garner public support and large-scale public investments in solutions to chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County. As the Foundation’s Measurement, Evaluation, and Learning partner for the Chronic Homelessness Initiative, Abt assesses and examines the Foundation’s and community’s progress in meeting its goals.

transitional housing for youth

Transitional Housing for Youth Evaluation
Client: Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority

In 2019, The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority contracted Abt to evaluate its transitional housing for youth across Los Angeles County. The evaluation explores outcomes and experiences, and lessons that can be learned about effective strategies for serving youth. Abt has partnered with national youth homelessness expert Dr. Eric Rice from the University of Southern California (USC) to conduct this evaluation.

accelerating development

Accelerating the Development of PSH in Los Angeles Evaluation
Client: California Community Foundation

In June 2018, the California Community Foundation contracted Abt to evaluate and examine how the development process for permanent supportive housing (PSH) has and is changing in the City of Los Angeles, what steps and strategies the community has made and invested in to accelerate the rate of PSH production, and how nonprofit developers used capacity-building grants to support their efforts to create PSH in the community.

investigating housing models

Investigating Housing Models for Accelerating PSH Production Evaluation
Client: The United Way of Greater Los Angeles in partnership with the Homeless Policy Research Institute

In December 2019, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Homeless Policy Research Institute contracted Abt to evaluate the community’s efforts to implement innovative approaches for creating and streamlining the production of PSH in Los Angeles. Abt is using a mixed method approach, examining the development costs, timeline, and experience of housing developers, and the processes and implementation of a new Housing Crisis Solutions Team in the Mayor’s office.

technical assistance

Technical Assistance for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Client: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Across California, Abt’s Technical Assistance experts, supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, work with communities to enhance their homeless service systems by providing tailored guidance and support for system planning, data analysis, grantee monitoring, and utilization of housing resources. In Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda County, Abt has been working with local agencies to develop a system’s model that will meet the crisis and housing needs of households experiencing both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. Further, a racial equity analysis was fully integrated into the planning process, which resulted in significant changes to address racial disparities in the experience of homelessness.

In Los Angeles County, Abt has been helping local agencies and community stakeholders use system-wide modeling to incorporate more comprehensive, accurate, and timely data in their system analysis.  In addition, staff have engaged local providers and system partners in an assessment of the Coordination Entry System to enhance flow and functionality. Nationally, the Stella-P modeling tool is helping local communities plan and address capacity needs of their shelters.

veteran affairs

Technical Assistance for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Client: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Abt provides intensive, on-site technical assistance and remote support to help California communities strengthen their systems for serving veterans experiencing homelessness. Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veterans Families program—in partnership with the Technical Assistance Collaborative—we bring together local stakeholders to identify the key barriers to ending homelessness among veterans, and then create community-specific systems to overcome these barriers. Our support ranges from helping to develop systems that improve communities’ ability to understand local needs to providing guidance and training in the design and implementation of new policies and best practices.



Contact Us

Meryl Finkel

Meryl Finkel, Ph.D.

Principal Associate, Social & Economic Policy

Cambridge, MA

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