Strategies to End Homelessness: Current Approaches to Evaluation


Bernie Pauly, RN, Ph.D.
Elly Carlson, MA
Kathleen Perkin, MA






Homelessness is a concern throughout Canada in rural, urban, southern and northern areas (Wellesley Institute, 2010). One estimate of homelessness in Canada indicates that there are about 150,000 people who seek refuge in emergency shelters nightly (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2009).

Being homeless is associated with poor physical and mental health (Frankish, Hwang, & Quantz, 2005; Hwang et al., 2008; Research Alliance for Canadian Homelessness Housing and Health, 2010; Wright & Tompkins, 2005), early death (Cheung & Hwang, 2004; Hwang, 2000; Hwang, Wilkins, Tjepkema, O’Campo, & Dunn, 2009; Spittal et al., 2006), lack of access to health care services (Ensign & Planke, 2002; Pauly, in press; Wen, Hudak, & Hwang, 2007), increased risk of depression and suicide (Buhrich, Hodder, & Teesson, 2006; Menzies, 2006) and victimization (Khandor & Mason, 2007). Homelessness impacts a diverse group of men, women, youth, and families, including Aboriginal peoples, military veterans, immigrants and refugees.

In the last decade, there have been calls for a shift away from managing homelessness to ending homelessness (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2000; The Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness, 2008). Managing homelessness focuses mainly on providing emergency shelter and charitable meal programs as temporary assistance for those in need of food and shelter. An over-emphasis on emergency responses is more expensive than placing individuals directly into housing (Larimer et al., 2009; National Alliance to End Homelessness; Patterson, Somers, MacIntosh, Shiell, & Frankish, 2007) and has negative impacts on the health, safety, and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness and the communities they live in.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of research on interventions that aim to end or reduce homelessness. Our specific goals were to gain an understanding of the different populations for whom interventions have been tested and the type of interventions evaluated, as well as to create an inventory of the indicators used to assess the effectiveness of interventions. We provide an overview of the methodology used to gather research on strategies to end homelessness. In the findings, we review the types of interventions evaluated, highlight the populations studied, and summarize the indicators of effectiveness used in the evaluations. Finally, we discuss the findings of this review in relation to current and future research on homeless interventions.

The study conclusion: in evaluating homelessness initiatives, there [needs to] be attention to broader systemic responses to end homelessness.









2012 Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.



Bernie Pauly, RN, Ph.D., Elly Carlson, MA , and Kathleen Perkin, MA, “Strategies to End Homelessness: Current Approaches to Evaluation,” I4E: Housing4All Digital Library, accessed October 20, 2019,

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