Invisible Policymaking: The Hidden Actors Shaping Homelessness:

Numerous government agencies at all levels make public policies that are influential to the well-being of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. But, the way these decisions get made and how they’re implemented aren’t visible to the public or even other policy makers. In many cases, they are not considered part of homelessness policy at all. Think: land use policy. Or policing.

Very little is known about the types of policies that are targeted toward homelessness at the local level, how these policies are organized around different goals that may or may not work to effectively reduce homelessness, and whether these goals are carried out in implementation.

Dr. Charley E. Willison and Dr. Katherine Levine Einstein are embarking on a three-year research project, “Invisible Policymaking: The Hidden Actors Shaping Homelessness,” in conjunction with Community Solutions in order to explore these issues more fully. The project aims to identify and explain the full landscape of homelessness policy; the structure of public policy making in local responses to homelessness in both decision-making and policy implementation; and the influence of these choices on people who are unhoused.

Homeless Policy Systems Survey:

Dr. Charley E. Willison, and Dr. Katherine Levine Einstein are Principal Investigators of the Continuums of Care Survey, a national survey of homeless policy systems or the federally designated 'Continuums of Care', the primarily locally organized governance structures for solutions to homelessness in the U.S.  The survey seeks to identify the institutional composition of the Continuums of Care, their stakeholder networks, community and governmental partners, their priorities, and the interaction between their institutional compositions and ability to carry out policy tasks to mitigate and end homelessness in their jurisdictions. 

The CoC Survey is the only nationally representative and scientifically rigorous survey of the federally designated institutions receiving federal funding to end homelessness in jurisdictions across the U.S. Further, it is the only existing survey of subnational, homeless policy responses in the U.S, and one of the only data sources available tracking local policy responses to homelessness, how these responses change over time, and policy challenges. The CoC Survey had a response rate of over 50% in its inaugural year, 2020, despite unprecedented data collection challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Survey uses tailored on the ground outreach and partnerships with CoCs to encourage participation.

See the report and findings from our 2020 Continuums of Care Survey here