At Home
 At Home is a quarterly
e-newsletter from the Housing & Communities Practice at Abt Associates. Here you'll find the latest research results and 
expert insights about housing and community development issues important to you. 
Winter 2013   

Homelessness in America Declining, Abt Study Finds
Homeless Veteran Numbers Fall Significantly
homeless man

The nation's homeless population dropped by six percent over the last five years but overall remained largely unchanged since 2011, according to a recent study by Abt Associates for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The study, based on Point-in-Time data collected on a single night in January 2012, also showed a 7.2 percent drop in the number of homeless veterans since 2011 and a 14.2 percent decrease in this population since 2009.


The findings, the substance of the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, point to a homeless population both sheltered and unsheltered-- of 633,782 countrywide. Sixty-two percent of this population are homeless individuals and the remaining 38 percent are homeless people in families.


The study, conducted annually for HUD by Abt researchers since 2007, was delivered to the U.S. Congress in November. Other key findings include:  

  • After experiencing a decline between 2010 and 2011, homelessness among families increased slightly, by 1.4 percent, in the last year.  However, the number of homeless people who are part of families has dropped by more than 9,000 since 2007.
  • Homelessness among individuals declined by 1.4 percent (or 5,457) from a year ago and by 6.8 percent (or 28,998) since 2007. 
  • In 2012, 99,894 people were experiencing chronic or long-term homelessness, representing a decline of 6.8 percent since 2011 and 19.3 percent since 2007.  This is the first time that the number of chronically homeless persons dropped below 100,000 since HUD began collecting these data.
  • Five states accounted for nearly half of the nation's homeless population in 2012: California (20.7 percent), New York (11 percent), Florida (8.7 percent), Texas (5.4 percent), and Georgia (3.2 percent)

The Annual Homeless Assessment Report is used by federal, state, and local policymakers and advocacy groups to prevent and end homelessness in America.  


Download a full copy of the report here.


As I See It -- Tom Albanese

Annual Report Opens Door to Evidence-based Practices to End Homelessness

Tom Albanese


For the past five years the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), produced for HUD by Abt Associates, has been the principal means by which federal agencies track the nation's progress in preventing and ending homelessness. 


But it does more than that. It provides states and municipalities with a common language for dialogue and action. Its data collection processes have been the impetus for expanding and improving local data gathering. And it has provided local homeless system planners with critical information that, along with other data, drive policies, inform resource allocations, and measure homeless system efficiency and effectiveness. The result has been more widespread adoption of evidence-based practices, such as targeted homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, that produce measurable outcomes. And this is where the AHAR is making a genuine difference-- putting us squarely on the path to ending homelessness in America.


Tom Albanese is a senior associate at Abt Associates specializing in homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing.


Disaster Victims Give Alternative Housing a "Thumbs Up,"  
but Program Operators Find it Challenging 
alternative housing
Hundreds of people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in four southern states were provided post-emergency housing quite different from the FEMA trailers that most disaster victims received. In Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, alternative houses-- a product of the government's Alternative Housing Pilot Program-- won favorable reviews from occupants interviewed by Abt Associates researchers for a study on quality of life outcomes for HUD. 
Respondents reported liking the more permanent look and feel of the newly designed units as well as other features. But, for program operators, implementing the program presented multiple challenges in developing new permanent housing and transitioning housing from temporary to permanent in a disaster recovery time frame.


As I See It -- Gretchen Locke 


Planning for Housing Needs Is Vital before Disasters Hit   


Gretchen Locke
Gretchen Locke

The effects of disasters on housing stability persist long after the aftermath of the calamity. This is especially true for people in precarious housing situations before the disaster or who are otherwise vulnerable. Similar to Abt's work on disaster recovery efforts funded by the Community Development Block Grant (featured in the Summer 2012 issue of At Home), Abt's study of the Alternative Housing Pilot Program points to the importance of pre-disaster planning for short-, medium-, and long-term housing needs. 


Building technology options is part of the answer, but community acceptance issues should not be overlooked, particularly for the longer-term efforts that follow emergency responses. Zoning codes, site availability, abutters' concerns and financing constraints need to be addressed in pre-disaster planning activities. States and communities should also assign separate staff to long-term housing planning, recognizing that immediate needs will overwhelm long-term considerations without a separate infrastructure dedicated to long-term planning. These are the kinds of steps that need to be taken before calamity strikes. 


Gretchen Locke is a senior associate at Abt Associates specializing in housing for vulnerable populations, including people who are elderly, have disabilities, or are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In the News

Meryl Finkel, Ph.D., Appointed Housing & Communities Practice Leader


Meryl Finkel, Ph.D., principal associate at Abt Associates, has been named to lead the company's Housing & Communities Practice. In this role, Dr. Finkel will be heading one of three practices in the Social and Economic Policy Division, overseeing 37 projects and managing a staff of 45.
Meryl Finkel, Ph.D.

Dr. Finkel joined Abt Associates in 1986, after completing her Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University. Over that time, she has worked in the Cambridge office, serving as a project director or principal investigator of more than 25 studies for HUD and the U.S. Treasury Department as well as other federal and non-federal clients. 


In addition to her new position, Dr. Finkel will continue to serve in a leadership role on several projects including the Study of Administrative Costs in the Housing Choice Voucher Program for HUD. 


Dr. Finkel has authored or co-authored numerous journal articles on housing issues and, in 2010, she presented the U.S. Congress with Abt's findings concerning capital needs in the public housing stock.

What We're Talking About
Shawn Moulton & Laura Peck, presented at the APPAM Fall Research Conference, Baltimore, MD, November 8-12, 2012.

Kimberly Burnett, presented at the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, Washington, D.C., September 2012.
New Faces -- Additions to Our Team
Kelli Barker


Kelli Barker, M.S.W., senior analyst, brings to Abt Associates her expertise in homelessness, community development, and federal housing programs.  Prior to joining the company, Ms. Barker implemented federal homeless and housing programs for the state of Indiana, developed a temporary employment program for homeless people in Phoenix and a public health outreach program in Indianapolis. Her responsibilities at Abt include providing HMIS technical assistance to the VA's Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program.  Ms. Barker completed her BA in journalism from Indiana University at Bloomington and holds a Master's of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Claudia Solari


Claudia Solari, Ph.D., is a senior analyst with expertise in homelessness, housing and neighborhood effects, mixed- and low-income housing evaluation, quantitative and mixed methods, spatial analysis, and research and survey design.  Dr. Solari recently returned to Abt Associates after a nine-year hiatus in which she earned her Ph.D. at UCLA in Sociology and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Carolina Population Center at UNC at Chapel Hill.  She has played a lead role in a number of complex studies, including an evaluation of the recession's impact on young adults in California and a study evaluating a work-based welfare program using mixed-method random assignment.

Galen Savidge

Galen Savidge-Wilkins, M.P.P., analyst, comes to Abt Associates with a background in community social service delivery.  Prior to joining Abt, Mr. Savidge worked on workforce issues for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He also worked with the Office of Community Services at the Administration for Children and Families, and as a direct service staff member at a supportive housing facility serving chronically homeless and mentally ill individuals. At Abt, he conducts data collection and analysis, and provides support for various technical assistance efforts aimed at reducing homelessness. Mr. Savidge received his BA in political science from the University of Washington and his Master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University.

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