Using a randomized controlled trial design, LEO and its partner organizations hope to answer the research question: what is the impact of offering flexible financial assistance during diversion conversations, with and without proactive follow-up case management, on whether individual are diverted from shelter, short- and long-term housing stability, and long-term outcomes such as benefits usage, income, and employment? Study enrollment will occur starting in October 2023 and continuing through April 2026. Partner staff will screen new clients for study eligibility during their initial intake conversation, before carrying out a full diversion conversation with clients. Clients will be eligible to participate in the study if the staff member completing their intake determines in this conversation that they could potentially be diverted and that financial assistance could have a positive impact on the likelihood of them being diverted. Once partner staff have determined that a client is eligible, they will inform them about the study, give them the opportunity to consent to research, and, whether or not they consent, randomly assign them to a treatment or control group before continuing with their diversion conversation. Randomization odds are 50:25:25 for control and each of the treatment arms, respectively. All clients will have the same likelihood of receiving the treatments, whether or not they consent, but they will only be included in the study if they consent to participate. Randomization will take place using Stata and Qualtrics.
The diversion conversation is the standard of care at our partner organizations. While some of the partners have had financial assistance available as part of the diversion conversation in the past, funds have been limited and were not always available to clients. The introduction of randomization, consistent availability of financial assistance for the treatment group, and proactive follow-up case management is experimental. These processes have been instituted as part of the research study. The purpose of this project is to determine the effectiveness of offering additional support along with a diversion conversation for clients experiencing housing crises. The results of this study will help LEO’s partner organizations decide where they should allocate their resources and what types of support will make the largest impact for their clients. Should flexible financial assistance alone or in combination with proactive follow-up case management be effective in increasing diversions from homeless shelters and future housing stability, it will provide each organization the opportunity to scale up these support services. The results from this study will also contribute to the general scientific knowledge on which interventions effectively prevent homelessness. Partner organizations will send a list of clients who are participating in the study and baseline data on clients that they gather during the diversion conversation to the research team, who will use this data to track participants’ outcomes using administrative data from applicable state agencies.