NIH Grant to Support Homelessness Prevention Research

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James Sullivan (left) and William Evans are leading the research initiative. (photos courtesy University of Notre Dame) James Sullivan (left) and William Evans are leading the research initiative. (photos courtesy University of Notre Dame)

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a nearly $350,000 grant to the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economics Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame. The funding will support research on the impact of emergency financial assistance on those at risk of homelessness.

LEO co-founders James Sullivan and William Evans, both of whom are professors of economics at Notre Dame, are leading the study of the Homelessness Prevention Call Center in Chicago, which takes an average of 70,000 calls annually from people on the verge of homelessness. 

Notre Dame says the NIH grant will support research on the impact the financial assistance has on the health of the people calling the hotline.

"Improving health outcomes for the most disadvantaged among us is a critical policy issue. Many of those who are homeless struggle with poor health," said Sullivan. "This NIH grant will allow us to examine whether there are ways to improve health outcomes by promoting housing stability. This study is part of a larger project that considers the impact of preventing homelessness."

The research follows a previous study published last year in the journal Science that examined the impact of financial assistance for 4,500 people who called the HPCC between 2010 and 2012. The study showed that those who called the hotline when funding was available were 76 percent less likely to enter a shelter.

Sullivan and Evans are also using a nearly $240,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of emergency assistance on crime. The university says LEO's research will "allow policymakers to make more informed choices on directing limited resources to the most effective programs."

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