At Home- News from Abt Associates' Housing and Communities Practice
Abt's Housing and  Communities practice: Delivering solutions to ensure vulnerable  Americans have a place to call home
 At Home is a quarterly
e-newsletter from the Housing & Communities Practice at Abt Associates. Here you'll find the latest research results and 
expert insights about housing and community development issues. 
Fall/Winter 2013   

Homelessness in America Continues Downward Trend, Abt Study Finds 


report cover The nation's homeless population dropped by nine percent over the last six years and by four percent since 2012, according to the 2013 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress: Part 1 produced by Abt Associates for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The one-year decline includes an eight percent drop in homeless veterans and a seven percent drop in people experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.


The latest findings, based on point-in-time data collected on a single night in January 2013 by communities across the U.S., revealed that 610,042 people experienced homelessness in the United States.  Slightly more than one-third of all homeless people (or 215,344 people) were staying on the street; and the rest were staying in shelters.  

Abt Supports MassHousing in Developing 

New Strategic Plan


Abt Associates is supporting Massachusetts' housing finance agency, MassHousing, in developing a strategic plan to meet the affordable housing needs of the Commonwealth's modest-income residents. MassHousing began the strategic planning process in early 2013 in an effort to learn more about the Commonwealth's changing housing landscape and to identify opportunities that would help it meet its goal. An Abt team led by Kimberly Burnett assisted the planning process by gathering input from more than 200 stakeholders and synthesizing the findings for MassHousing's Board of Directors.

Launch of Pilot for First-Time Homebuyer Study


housing counselingRecruitment and enrollment for the pilot for the Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration and Impact Evaluation was initiated this past September. This major HUD study is aimed at conclusively determining the effectiveness of housing counseling on housing stability and other outcomes for first-time homebuyers. The study seeks to enroll 6,000 participants who are
low-, moderate-, and middle-income first-time potential homebuyers residing in 28 metro areas, and follow their outcomes over a five-year period.


The study participants will be randomly assigned to three groups: those referred to pre-purchase online education and telephone counseling; those referred to classroom-based pre-purchase education and in-person counseling; and those not referred to any counseling service. Abt Associates is managing the first phase of the study, working closely with HUD, lenders, housing counseling organizations and academic experts across the country to ensure the study's success.

What We're Talking About


Solutions for Inclusive Communities

Jeffrey Lubell

Solutions 2013 National Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, Atlanta, GA, September 16, 2013


Jeffrey Lubell, Abt's Director of Housing Initiatives, addressing this conference, identified specific housing policy options for promoting three complementary inclusive housing strategies: (1) expanding affordable housing in existing communities of opportunity; (2) preserving existing affordable homes and including affordable homes within new development in changing or growing communities; and (3) improving housing quality and expanding housing options in underserved communities as part of comprehensive community development.

Interested in Past Issues of At Home?
At Home is a quarterly e-newsletter from the Housing and Communities Practice at Abt Associates. Here you'll find the latest research results and expert insights about housing and community development issues.

In House
by Jeffrey Lubell  
Jeffrey Lubell, director of housing initiatives
What's the End Game for Meeting America's Rental Housing Needs?


The nation's rental assistance programs help millions of households afford housing costs that would otherwise be out of reach.  Yet only about one-quarter to one-third of the households in need of rental assistance get it.  What's the long-term strategy for meeting the unmet need, or at least making substantial progress toward that goal? 


Read the first installment of this multipart series.

What We're Writing About 

Identifying the Drivers of Causation


Is there a way to analyze experimental research to produce more information about what specifically produces a social intervention's results?  Abt Associates researchers Laura Peck, PhD, Stephen Bell, PhD, and Eleanor Harvill, PhD, say there is in a series of methodological papers that explain how to make experimentally-designed evaluation more nuanced in its explanation of causation.


The three articles, published in the September and October 2013 issues of American Journal of Evaluation and posted this month in the journal's advance December 2013 online edition, describe an approach to evaluating the effectiveness of programs among groups of people who took different paths after being randomly assigned to different treatment groups.


The method explained in these articles details tools that can allow researchers to learn more from existing experimental data, as demonstrated in a recent such application to the Moving-to-Opportunity Fair Housing Demonstration, which revealed the mediating role of neighborhood quality on adult and child health well-being.

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