Developing a Temporal Typology of Homelessness Among Veterans: An Optimal Matching Analysis
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
To address this need, the present study develops a temporal typology of veteran homelessness using administrative data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Homeless Registry and VA electronic medical record data. The study uses a time-patterned approach to identify distinct groups within a cohort of nearly 90,000 Veterans who used VA homeless services for the first time 2013. I track this cohort’s use of VA homeless programs prospectively over a three-year period, which is divided into 36 discrete one month periods. I use optimal matching to create a dissimilarity matrix capturing differences among veterans’ sequences of VA homeless program use over the study’s observation period. This dissimilarity matrix is then subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis using Ward’s method to identify distinct groups of homeless Veterans. This analysis identifies four groups of homeless veterans: short-term single program users, long-term transitional housing users, permanent supportive housing users, and multi-program users. Comparisons of Veterans in each of these groups reveal important differences in terms of their characteristics, and use of VA inpatient and outpatient healthcare services. I conclude by discussing implications of study results for resource allocation and programmatic decisions.