At the start of 2009, Hennepin County entered the third year of its ten-year plan to end homelessness. This bold
collaborative effort began amidst a broader national movement to end homelessness that has been gaining
momentum in states and counties across the country. Hennepin County.s plan, Heading Home Hennepin, built
upon these national best practices and laid out a comprehensive plan with definitive benchmarks to end
homelessness by the year 2016.
The present study evaluates one component of the Heading Home Hennepin plan: housing first programs
targeting single adults who are long-term homeless. For the purposes of this report, these programs are
collectively referred to as the “Housing First” program. While distinctions exist among the individual programs,
all align with a common approach which focuses on immediate placement into housing combined with the
availability of supportive services.
The evaluation utilizes a mixed-method approach that incorporates both quantitative and qualitative
methodologies. The first component of the quantitative analysis uses administrative data on county shelter use
to assess whether the composition of shelter users has changed since the Housing First program began. Using
rolling three year windows, it computes the number of nights and episodes of shelter stays of all individuals in
shelters from 2005-2008. It also compares prior shelter days and episodes of shelter use of individuals placed
into housing to those not placed into housing to assess whether the program effectively targeted the long-term
The second component of the quantitative analysis draws on four different administrative data sets to estimate
the impact of the Housing First program on participants. shelter use, access to health insurance, and encounters
with police. This analysis uses a matched comparison group of individuals who were not placed into housing,
but were similar in terms of age, gender and prior shelter use to control for economic or programmatic changes
that may have coincided with implementation of the Housing First program. All outcomes were assessed
during three-, six-, and twelve-month intervals before and after placement into housing.
Barry, Tim; Bashir, Naima; Esmaili, Mittra; Larson, Kerstin; Reneau-Major, Tim; Trupke-Bastidas, Julie. Heading Home Hennepin Housing First Program Evaluation. May 13th 2009. May 14th 2009. Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
professional paper in the partial fulfillment of the Masters of Public Policy degree
Barry, Tim; Bashir, Naima; Esmaeili, Mittra; Larson, Kerstin; Reneau-Major, Tim; Trupke-Bastidas, Julie.
Heading Home Hennepin Housing First Program Evaluation.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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