Homelessness prevention can be approached in two ways. One–the more enduring path to ending homelessness–is to fix the systemic problems that cause it: social inequalities of income, wealth, and opportunity, and the failures of the social safety net. This research brief focuses on the more short-term approach to prevention: intervening with people experiencing crises before they show up at the shelter door.
When designing prevention efforts, communities should consider both the effectiveness of various approaches to helping people maintain stable housing and the efficiency of these efforts. Efficiency means getting services to people who would benefit the most. Statistical screening models can help take some of the guesswork out of determining which vulnerable households will actually become homeless so that the community’s prevention resources are not wasted. Studies indicate that prevention is most effective when given to people at highest risk.