Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Estimating the Impact of Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Services on the Utilization of Health and Behavioral Health Services : Findings from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Foster I (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Thomas Byrne, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Boston University
Homeless assistance policies and programs in the United States are increasingly emphasizing prevention oriented approaches, which aim to either help households at risk of homelessness to maintain their housing or to help currently homeless households regain housing as quickly as possible.  One of the key aims of such programs is to assist individuals and families in accessing healthcare and other mainstream benefits that may be essential to their housing stability. However, no study to date has examined the extent to which homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing programs are successful in achieving this aim. 

The present study addresses this gap in existing knowledge using data from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which is a homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and operated by community-based agencies throughout the country.  The aim of the study is to examine the impact of the SSVF program on use of VA health and behavioral health care services among SSVF recipients.  To address this aim, the study compares the extent and volume of VA health and behavioral services utilization between a cohort of 36,363 Veterans who received SSVF services in fiscal year 2013, and a comparison group of 77,621 at-risk or currently Veterans who did not receive SSVF services and who were identified using data from the VA's Homelessness Screening Clinical Reminder, which is a screening instrument administered throughout the VA health care system.  We use propensity scores to match SSVF recipients with at-risk or currently homeless Veterans and use a difference-in-difference approach to estimate the impact of SSVF on use of VA health and behavioral health care services.  Findings show that the impact of SSVF varies depending on the service type (i.e. physical health or behavioral health) and treatment modality (i.e. inpatient or outpatient).