The purpose of this paper is to provide rationale, methodological guidance and clarity in the use of case study research and theory driven evaluation in the evaluation of interventions to end homelessness.
Using an evaluation of a transitional shelter program aiming to support permanent exits from homelessness as an example, we show how case study approaches and theory driven research is well suited to the study of implementation of homelessness interventions within the broader socio-political context in which they are being implemented.
Taking account of the context as part of program evaluation and research on homelessness interventions moves away from blaming programs and individuals for systemic failures to better understanding of how the context influences successes and failures. Case study research as an approach is particularly useful for studying implementation and the context which influences program outcomes. Theory driven evaluations and the use of realist evaluation as an approach can provide a broader understanding of how homelessness interventions work particularly for whom and under what conditions. These methodological and theoretical approaches provide a consistent strategy for evaluating programs aimed at ending homelessness.
There is a need for greater capacity in the homelessness sector to apply approaches to evaluation that take into account the broader socio-political and economic context in which programs are being implemented. Through the use of a case example, we provide guidance for application of case study methodology and theory driven evaluation as a strategy for evaluating programs aimed at ending homelessness.