LEO’s James Sullivan presents homelessness prevention study on Capitol Hill

Author: Brittany Collins Kaufman

Jim Sullivan James Sullivan

James Sullivan, Rev. Thomas J. McDonagh, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Economics and co-founder of the Wilson-Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame, will participate in a briefing to Congressional members, staff and other key stakeholders on Thursday (Sept. 15) about the impact of emergency assistance on homelessness.

The briefing is organized by Catholic Charities USA, the national office for Catholic Charities agencies nationwide. Catholic Charities USA provides leadership and support to member agencies in their efforts to reduce poverty and support families in their communities.

The briefing will provide an opportunity for members of Congress to learn more about how emergency financial assistance can prevent episodes of homelessness and provide cost savings for government agencies, since homelessness is an expensive problem facing cities.

At the briefing, Sullivan will discuss his recent research on the effects of financial assistance hotlines on homelessness prevention. Sullivan and his colleague William Evans, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Economics and co-founder of LEO, led a study of the Homelessness Prevention Call Center in Chicago to find out whether these call centers can effectively keep people seeking help from entering a homeless shelter. Through their study they found that these hotlines have a considerable effect on people facing homelessness, and that emergency financial assistance successfully prevents homelessness — if funding is available.

“Policymakers and housing experts have long debated how best to address the persistent problem of homelessness in the United States,” Sullivan said after the study was published. “Our study shows that not only do targeted prevention programs work, but they also can save the community money.”

Sullivan’s research examines the consumption, saving and borrowing behavior of poor households, and how welfare and tax policy affects the well-being of the poor. He has been a visiting scholar at the National Poverty Center.

The Wilson-Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities is a research lab housed in the Department of Economics at Notre Dame. LEO matches top researchers with leaders in social service agencies to conduct impact evaluations that identify the innovative, effective and scalable programs and policies that support self-sufficiency. LEO fulfills the University’s mission “to cultivate … a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burdens the lives of so many.”

Contact: James Sullivan, jsulliv4@nd.edu