Quantification and standardization of concepts like risk and vulnerability are increasingly being used in high-stakes, client-facing social services, also presenting the potential for data-driven tools for decision-making in this context. These trends necessitate an understanding of the role of quantitative data in the work of street-level decision-makers in social services. We present a qualitative study of existing data practices and perceptions of potential data-driven tools in housing allocation, engaging the perspective of service providers and policymakers in homeless services in a large urban county in the United States. Our findings highlight participants' concerns around centering clients' choices and ensuring integrity in a resource-constrained, high-stakes context. We also highlight differences between the perspectives of policymakers and service providers on standardization and fairness in the decision-making process. We discuss how use of and policies around data in social services need to consider the importance of the relationships that client-facing service providers have with other workers in the organization, with their work, and with clients.
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is the largest national research institute devoted to homelessness in Canada. The COH is the curator of the Homeless Hub.
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The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is the largest national research institute devoted to homelessness in Canada. The COH is the curator of the Homeless Hub.Canadian Observatory on Homelessness