Panel Paper: Evaluation of NYC Department of Homeless Services' REMA Pilot: Does Increased Coordination Between Department of Social Services and Homeless Administrators Improve the Employment Outcomes of Single Homeless Men and Reduce Shelter Stays?

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 10:45 AM
DuPont Ballroom F (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Swati Desai1, Ellen Howard-Cooper2, Andrew L. Silverstein3, Eileen Lynch Johns4 and Zhifen Cheng4, (1)State University of New York, Albany, (2)NYC Department of Homeless Services, (3)City University of New York, (4)NYC Department of Homeless Services
The US Interagency Council on Homelessness has set a path to end homelessness. The Obama Administration’s Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, Opening Doors, emphasizes addressing homelessness through intergovernmental collaboration, improving access to mainstream programs and increasing employment for people experiencing homelessness. NYC’s Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) has implemented The Rapid Employment model in Assessment (REMA) pilot, an innovative program to achieve these goals. The pilot connects new single male shelter entrants to NYC’s Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services (HRA) which provides cash assistance, SNAP benefits and contracts with job training vendors to provide employment services. The employment contractor conducts an on-site orientation at the shelter, develops an employment plan, matches clients to jobs and track their retention for 6 months.  Their compensation is tied to job placement and retention. DHS assesses new entrants within 3 days of entering shelter, provides case management services and monitors residents’ progress toward self sufficiency.

The REMA pilot was implemented at only one men’s assessment shelter, Bedford-Atlantic.  Since shelter assignment for new entrants is random, the pilot provides a “natural” experiment. At Bedford Atlantic, clients referred to HRA and the employment program, were closely case-managed by DHS, HRA and the employment vendor. The agencies exchanged nightly reports on residents’ program participation. Those who were non-compliant were reminded of their requirements. The assessment shelter, Keener, was the control site. There, clients were asked to apply for cash assistance and were referred to employment programs but without case management. This study examines whether mandatory welfare and employment program participation and case management increases resident’s employment outcomes and decreases shelter stays.

Residents who entered the treatment and control shelters between March and December 2011 were included in the study.  The total population was 7026 men, ages 18 to 59. The sample size of individuals who applied for cash assistance and were referred to employment programs was 451 at the treatment site and 287 at the control. The data used for the study was obtained from DHS, (Shelter Stay, age, race, citizenship status, probation and veteran statuses), HRA (Cash assistance and employment program data) and from the SDOL (employment and earnings).

Analysis shows that shelter assignment is not truly random. Thus, statistical adjustment was made to eliminate selection bias. Early results show the treatment group is more likely to apply for cash assistance and to participate in employment programs. Also, preliminary analysis shows the treatment group is more likely to find employment. These positive results suggest that better coordination between homeless and other employment programs ( FSET, WIA and Child Support) in addition to New York State’s Safety Net (cash assistance for singles) could help homeless clients, move towards self-sufficiency.