Homelessness Recurrence in Georgia: Descriptive Statistics, Risk Factors, and Contextualized Outcome Measurement

Homelessness recurrence is antithetical to the primary purpose of the homeless service provider system: moving people out of shelters and into stable, permanent housing. Measuring recurrence is thus essential to measuring homelessness policy outcomes, and it can be done in a relatively objective and discreet way using Georgia’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This capability was used to collect data on 9,013 individuals who transitioned out of homelessness between 11/20/2009 and 11/19/2010 in order to investigate risk factors of recurrence. 27% eventually returned to HMIS as homeless, and 21 variables were modeled against the likelihood of this event happening. Of these, it was found that the top risk factors of returning to homelessness were an absence of Rapid Re-Housing enrollment and having a history of homelessness in HMIS. Some findings were different than expected: persons without a teenage male in their household were twice as likely to return, persons with a head of household older than 45 were 1.7 times as likely to return, and persons with an ongoing housing subsidy were not less likely to return. Useful predictive models of recurrence were developed, which can be used to evaluate program outcomes in a way that takes into account the presence of risk factors among the clients the program is serving.

Publication Date: