Why evidence matters in ending homelessness

Featured article - 30 May 2018
By Francesca Albanese, Head of Research and Evaluation at Crisis

Head-shot of the author, Francesca Albanese, Head of Research and Evaluation at Crisis

An estimated 160,000 households experience the most acute forms of homelessness across Great Britain. If current policies continue it is set to double by 2041. Yet we know homelessness is not inevitable and we can end it. As part of its 50th year, Crisis has embarked on a project to research and evidence long term solutions for ending homelessness due to be published on 11 June.

Using evidence insightfully is a vital part of the solution, and as part Crisis’ plan to end homelessness we needed to understand the available evidence on homelessness services, their effectiveness and how much they cost to implement. With this in mind we commissioned the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to conduct a rapid evidence assessment (REA) to review the evidence on current and past services targeted at addressing and reducing homelessness across England, Scotland and Wales.

Important lessons being drawn

Using evidence insightfully is a vital part of the solution, and as part Crisis’ plan to end homelessness we needed to understand the available evidence on homelessness services, their effectiveness and how much they cost to implement. With this in mind we commissioned the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to conduct a rapid evidence assessment (REA) to review the evidence on current and past services targeted at addressing and reducing homelessness across England, Scotland and Wales.

Important lessons have been drawn out of the review that can form the basis for commissioners, decision-makers, service designers and front line staff working with people experiencing homelessness. In brief the review has highlighted:

  • Sustained services, targeted to meet specific needs across time are effective. Effective services include those which provide Intensive Case Management, Critical Time Interventions and Housing First
  • Services are more effective if they adhere to their original design (fidelity), adapt to local settings and take a person centred response to help individuals move out of homelessness
  • A number of challenges currently exist – there are a lack of services for people with complex needs, interventions are constrained by lack of access to the local housing market and a lack of lack of data and monitoring to inform service design.

Crucially, whilst there is a wealth of evidence on what works to address homelessness, there is variation in quality and scope. The review has highlighted gaps in evidence including experimental research, especially Randomised Control Trials, measurement of fidelity of services, long term outcomes and cost benefit analysis. The next challenge is to coordinate and develop a more coherent approach to generating reliable and accessible evidence about what works in preventing and tackling homelessness to meet our goal of ending it.

Media Contact

Steve Palmer, Press and Public Affairs Manager
Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: steve.palmer@scie.org.uk