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Department of Health & Human Services The Center for Health, Practice, Policy & Research

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Community Based Research on Homelessness

Introduction

Homelessness is a complicated, and unfortunately growing, social issue in our community. Faculty associated with the Center for Health Practice Policy and Research have been involved in a number of recent community-based research projects that provide both new data and insight into the challenges and possible solutions to homelessness in our region. We welcome you to take a look at both our ongoing and current projects being conducted by the CHHPR faculty in our community and across the state by Dr. Baiocchi, Dr. Curry, Dr. Evans, Dr. Arguello.

For questions or inquiries about ongoing and future projects please contact Dr. Arturo Baiocchi, Dr. Susanna Curry, or Associate Dean Mary Maguire.

Contact Information

Email Dr. Baiocchi at arturo.baiocchi@csus.edu

Email Dr. Curry at curry@csus.edu

Recent and Current Projects

Assessing Californiaʼs Response to the Homelessness Crisis

The Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council has recently commissioned Dr. Baiocchi and Dr. Curry to design and implement an initial study regarding the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP). HEAP, established by Senate Bill 850, allotted $500 million with the state budget for one-time, flexible set of block grants to help local communities throughout the state address the substantial rise in homelessness.

The first report, published in April 2020, and linked below, describes the variety of programs and innovative practices that have been funded by the initiative in the past twelve months across the state. Drawing from a variety of data sources the report also provides insight into how communities have strategized their funding decisions for HEAP, as well as some of the early successes and challenges that communities have encountered implementing the initiative. Finally, the report summarizes a set of recommendations for how researchers and policy makers can explore the varied and disparate impacts that funding initiatives like HEAP can have on local service systems.

HEAP: April 2020 Report

2019 Sacramento County Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness

homelessness banner

In 2019, Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) partnered for a second time with faculty researchers from Sacramento State University and the Institute for Social Research, to develop and implement the 2019 Homeless Count for Sacramento County. This year’s Homeless Count was a much more ambitious endeavor than previous years—deploying new statistical methods as well as greater community engagement to improve the scope of the count. Approximately 900 community volunteers participated in the 2019 Homeless Count, who collectively walked 462 miles of canvassing routes, to talk and engage with some of the most marginalized members of our community. This report summarizes some of the key findings from these efforts as well as general conclusions about the state of homelessness in Sacramento County.

The full report, which documents a statistically-adjusted 19% increase in homelessness in Sacramento County from 2017-2019 and details the demographics and characteristics of people who are sheltered or unsheltered, can be found below:

Sacramento Steps Forward - Press Release

Homeless Outreach and Law Enforcement

homeless outreach team

During the last two decades law enforcement departments across the country have experimented with new service and community policing models to address homelessness, which contrast from conventional ‘enforcement’ models of policing. Since 2017 Dr. Baiocchi has been studying the implementation and impacts of Sacramento County Sheriff's Dept. Homeless Outreach Team and their collaboration with local social service providers. The three-year evaluation is being sponsored by the Strategies for Policing Innovations—a grant initiative of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)--and explores both the community and institutional impacts of this service-oriented approach to community policing. The final evaluation report will be published in December 2020.

Integrating Care for People Experiencing Homelessness

The Integrating Care for People Experiencing Homelessness study, led by the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, in partnership with Dr. Evans, Baiocchi, and Curry at Sacramento State, presents data about the Sacramento homeless population and services available to them; local stakeholder observations about care quality and access; national models of integrated care programs; and a review of the literature on effectiveness of integrated models and their components.

The goal of the report is to inform discussion among community members who seek innovative solutions to address the challenge of people who are chronically homeless in Sacramento.

A Focus on Sacramento County

Past Projects

2017 Sacramento County Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness

Every two years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires local communities to conduct a census of all individuals experiencing homelessness in their region—called the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count—during one night at the end of January. This extensive county-wide effort to estimate the local homeless population provides a snapshot of nearly all individuals and families staying at emergency/transitional shelters in the county, as well as those sleeping outside, in tents or vehicles and under bridges. In addition to fulfilling a HUD funding requirement, the PIT Count is a detailed and timely information source for local stakeholders and the broader community to assess the state of homelessness in their region. Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) is the lead agency of the Sacramento Continuum of Care, and has held the responsibility of conducting the PIT Count for the past several years. In December 2016, SSF commissioned researchers at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) to supervise and enhance the methodology of the 2017 PIT, as well as provide a thorough analysis of the data collected.

2017 Homelessness in Sacramento County Report

How Californians View the Causes and Solutions to Homelessness

In 2018 center faculty conducted a representative survey of Californians (N=978) and their views on homelessness as well as specific policies and programs. Findings highlight a growing census among Californians that housing costs are driving recent increases in homelessness, though most Californians also still believe that “mental health disorders” and “dysfunctional families” are the main reasons why most individuals experience homelessness. And while many Californians support state interventions in the housing market, most nonetheless favor more rehabilitative programs focused on mental health and addiction issues. Faculty drafted a white paper summarizing these and other findings in response to the Call for Papers that the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council announced in Spring 2019.

Californians Speak on Homelessness