Tag Archives: evaluation

Helping The Homeless Whether They are Naughty or Nice.

If we operate like Santa Claus receiving a wish list from an impoverished person who is looking for food or shelter, what do we do with the “naughty” people? Deny them food, shelter, and housing?

Lowering Standards is the Wrong way to Increase Outcomes

Measurements are often given meaning relative to thresholds. Someone is housed or unhoused, poor or not poor, by some definition. Yet these thresholds are arbitrary, and open to debate and manipulation. While one might think there would be agreement on what homeless means, especially since it is a word that almost defines itself, there is considerable argument over its definition with significant policy consequences.

As the social sector struggles to measure its impact and make the case that real progress is being made, the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) might have found the easiest and most fool proof way of increasing graduation rates; lower graduation standards. The LAUSD is facing a dropout crisis, and like many social sector organizations, whether government or non-profit, is feeling the pressure to improve outcomes based on a set of measurable indicators. For schools, a fairly important indicator is graduating students.

Decreased Funding for Human Services Underscores Need for Impact

The funding environment is not going to improve any time soon, and if our economy does suffer a structural shift, it might not ever. Human services has never been the sexy cause of affluent philanthropists, who tend to favor health, arts, and higher education. Indeed, charitable giving in human services is largely driven by middle and lower-class households.

Rounding out human services is government funding, a lot of it. Of course, that funding is being cut back substantially as governments slash budgets to stave off default.

Study Suggests Anti-Poverty Programs Save Lives

The problem of trying to quantify social impact has received a lot of attention in the social sector lately. Those who argue in favor of quantification believe that proper metrics will allow us to better identifying programs that are effective, thus guiding donor dollars toward higher impact services.

Opponents of quantification argue that the work of the social sector is unique and that social value is not necessarily measurable.

New York City Council to Investigate Controversial Homeless Services Study

New York City Council’s General Welfare Committee has scheduled a hearing for this Thursday to discuss a research protocol proposed by the city’s Department of Homeless Services. The Department of Homeless Services is planning a study to evaluate the effectiveness of its Homebase program. Homebase helps at-risk individuals and families receive coordinated services designed to prevent […]

New York Department of Homeless Services Denies Two-Hundred Families Assistance in Name of Research

We in the social sector not only have a duty to help people experiencing homelessness and poverty, we also have a duty to figure out whether our services actually help. These two responsibilities, to provide services and evaluate our work, have come into conflict in the City of New York’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). […]

Innovation and Evaluation: Saluting the Homeless Shelter Pay-To-Stay Experiment

The Union Rescue Mission (URM), a homeless services provider in downtown Los Angeles’s Skid Row, recently announced it would start charging some shelter residents a fee for staying in the agency’s shelter. I applaud URM’s decision to try something new, not because I think it will necessarily succeed in improving client outcomes, but because it […]