School of Social Policy & Practice
Founded as one of the nation's earliest schools of social work in the United States, the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has trained social work professionals for over 110 years. In the 21st century, its scope expanded to include public policy and nonprofit leadership as natural extensions of applied social research. Today, SP2 offers masters programs in social work, public policy, and nonprofit leadership; doctoral programs in social welfare and clinical social work, and a wide range of certificate programs and specializations. The school is home to several research centers, including the Center for Carceral Communities, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, the Center for Social Impact Strategy, the Center for Social Mobility and Prosperity, the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, and the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse. Faculty and graduate work is rooted in social justice, community care, and advancing equity-based policies worldwide.
PublicationShelters Lead Nowhere(1993-12-19) Culhane, Dennis PThe city should take state and Federal financing that goes to the shelters and use it to keep people out of them. PublicationRearranging the Deck Chairs or Reallocating the Lifeboats?: Homelessness Assistance and Its Alternatives(2008-01-01) Culhane, Dennis P; Metraux, StephenProblem: At present, homelessness in the United States is primarily addressed by providing emergency and transitional shelter facilities. These programs do not directly address the causes of homelessness, and residents are exposed to victimization and trauma during stays. We need an alternative that is more humane, as well as more efficient and effective at achieving outcomes. Purpose: This article uses research on homelessness to devise alternative forms of emergency assistance that could reduce the prevalence and/or duration of episodes of homelessness and much of the need for emergency shelter. Methods: We review analyses of shelter utilization patterns to identify subgroups of homeless single adults and families with minor children, and propose alternative program models aimed at the particular situations of each of these subgroups. Results and conclusions: We argue that it would be both more efficient and more humane to reallocate resources currently devoted to shelters. We propose the development of community-based programs that instead would focus on helping those with housing emergencies to remain housed or to quickly return to housing, and be served by mainstream social welfare programs. We advocate providing shelter on a limited basis and reserving transitional housing for individuals recently discharged from institutions. Chronic homelessness should be addressed by permanent supportive housing. PublicationHomelessness and Child Welfare Services in New York City: Exploring Trends and Opportunites for Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth(2007-01-01) Culhane, Dennis P; Park, Jung MinFor over a decade, national research has shown that many disadvantaged youth and families experience both homelessness and involvement in child welfare services. However, prior to the research summarized here, no population-based research had examined systematically the extent and dynamics by which children and youth experience both of these service systems. This white paper for the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) provides a summary of three studies that looked carefully at how these two important social welfare systems have shared a population, and how our improved understanding of these intersecting systems of care can promote better outcomes and improved quality of life for children and youth. PublicationThe Age Structure of Contemporary Homelessness: Risk Period or Cohort Effect?(2010-06-01) Culhane, Dennis P; Metraux, Stephen; Bainbridge, JayThis paper assesses the age composition of the sheltered homeless population and how the age of this population – both single adults and adults in families – have changed over the past two decades. Data for this study came from administrative records on shelter use in New York City and from the nationwide shelter and general population enumerations in each of the last two decennial census enumerations. Results are presented in a series of figures to illustrate 1) the changes in the age distributions of the homeless population over time; and 2) the age distribution of homeless populations compared to other populations. In the late 1980s, homeless single adults and adults in families were relatively young, with the median age for both being in the late-twenties. Subsequently, however, these household types appear to have diverged, as the birth cohort from which the young single adults had come (born 1954-1965) has continued to be overrepresented in the shelter population, whereas homelessness among adults in families has remained linked to households in the early parenting years (ages 18-23). While the families and the single adults may have experienced some common precipitating factors that led to the emergence of homelessness in the 1980s, the young mothers appear to age out of their risk for homelessness while homelessness among this birth cohort of single adults sustains. Hypotheses are discussed regarding the social and economic factors that may be associated with disproportionate housing instability and homelessness among adults from the latter half of the baby boom cohort. Implications for public policy are considered, including the premature risk of disability, frailty and mortality associated with this cohort. PublicationApplying Cluster Analysis to Test a Typology of Homelessness by Pattern of Shelter Utilization: Results from the Analysis of Administrative Data(1998-04-01) Kuhn, Randall; Culhane, Dennis PThis study tests a typology of homelessness using administrative data on public shelter use in New York City (1988-1995) and Philadelphia (1991-1995). Cluster analysis is used to produce three groups (transitionally, episodically, and chronically homeless) by number of shelter days and number of shelter episodes. Results show that the transitionally homeless, who constitute approximately 80% of shelter users in both cities, are younger, less likely to have mental health, substance abuse, or medical problems, and to over-represent Whites relative to the other clusters. The episodically homeless, who constitute 10% of shelter users, are also comparatively young, but are more likely to be non-White, and to have mental health, substance abuse, and medical problems. The chronically homeless, who account for 10% of shelter users, tend to be older, non-White, and to have higher levels of mental health, substance abuse, and medical problems. Differences in health status between the episodically and chronically homeless are smaller, and in some cases the chronically homeless have lower rates (substance abuse in New York; serious mental illness in Philadelphia). Despite their relatively small number, the chronically homeless consume half of the total shelter days. Results suggest that program planning would benefit from application of this typology, possibly targeting the transitionally homeless with preventive and resettlement assistance, the episodically homeless with transitional housing and residential treatment, and the chronically homeless with supported housing and long-term care programs. PublicationAccountability, Cost-Effectiveness, and Program Performance: Progress Since 1998(2008-02-11) Culhane, Dennis P; Gross, Kennen S; Parker, Wayne D; Poppe, Barbara; Sykes, EzraThe authors summarize the progress made in the past decade toward making homeless assistance programs more accountable to funders, consumers, and the public. They observe that research on the costs of homelessness and cost offsets associated with intervention programs has been limited to people who are homeless with severe mental illness. But this research has raised awareness of the value of this approach, such that dozens of new studies in this area are underway, mostly focused on "chronic homelessness." Less progress has been made in using cost and performance data to systematically assess interventions for families, youth, and transitionally homeless adults. The authors present case studies of promising practices from the State of Arizona and Columbus, Ohio, demonstrating innovative uses of client and program data to measure performance and improve program management toward state policy goals, such as increased housing placement rates, reduced lengths of homelessness, and improved housing stability. PublicationMaking Homelessness Programs Accountable to Consumers, Funders and the Public(1997) Culhane, Dennis P; Eldridge, David; Rosenheck, Robert; Wilkins, CarolThis paper discusses how different types of performance measurement can be used to improve the accountability of homeless programs to consumers, funders and to the public. A distinction is made between the kinds of data used in formal research projects and data that can be practically obtained in a practice setting. Consumer outcomes are discussed in terms of accountability to consumers, program outcomes in terms of accountability to funders, and systems outcomes in terms of accountability to the public. Cost-benefit analyses are also discussed as providing another critical dimension of accountability to funders and the public. PublicationThe Quandaries of Shelter Reform: An Appraisal of Efforts to "Manage" Homelessness(1992) Culhane, Dennis PIn this article, I describe efforts to manage the capacity of homeless shelter programs in Philadelphia and assess the impact of those efforts on providers and consumers of homeless services. Most reforms have focused on reducing the capacity of the shelter system by reducing the average length of stay of persons in shelter and by providing housing relocation assistance. However, these reforms have been compromised by an inability to contol the demand for shelter, particularly the rate of new admissions , and by the extent of need for housing assistance among homeless and near-homeless people in Philadelphia. Alternative methods of financing shelters are described, as are attempts to create a system of specialty shelter providers. The contradictions of shelter reform and the need for a more comprehensive homelessness prevention strategy are discussed. PublicationSingle Room Housing Won't End Homelessness(1990-03-14) Culhane, Dennis PSROs might be the solution for some people, including the older and disabled homeless, but many others, including the masses of near-homeless (and soon-to-be-homeless) await a more imaginative solution that gives them a chance at stable household formation, adequately compensated labor, social protection from disability and unemployment, and that supports more diverse and mixed household arrangements than is represented in the proposed SRO solution. PublicationHelp in Time: An Evaluation of Philadelphia's Community-Based Homelessness Prevention Program(1999-12-01) Wong, Yin-Ling I; Koppel, Meg; Culhane, Dennis P; Metraux, Stephen; Eldridge, David E; Hillier, Amy; Lee, Helen RThis report provides an evaluation of Philadelphia's neighborhood-based homelessness prevention initiative. Results indicate that nearly all households served do not become homeless. But it is unclear if households would have become homeless had they not been served. Recommendations are made for targeting prevention interventions to families requesting shelter.