Prof, students collaborate on key homelessness study


As the local Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention faced a crucial juncture in its work, Dr. Kevin Whiteacre and his UIndy students were there to help. Their task was to evaluate the impact of the Blueprint to End Homelessness, the 10-year plan that’s guided community efforts for the past decade. The Indianapolis plan was among many established in U.S. cities at the time, and this evaluation would be one of the first in the nation. The findings would aid CHIP in drafting a new five-year plan to guide future efforts.

To conduct the study, the not-for-profit agency commissioned Whiteacre, director of the University’s Community Research Center and assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, along with a Butler University professor, Kenneth Colburn. Colburn and his students interviewed homeless people and service providers. Whiteacre and some of his graduate students in applied sociology—Cristie Cole, Deanna Hazel, Ryan McClarnon, and Wei Xie—analyzed data from the Census Bureau and from central Indiana’s most comprehensive database on services provided to the homeless, among other sources.

The issues they explored included the demographics of the city’s homeless population, the availability of affordable housing, and the barriers preventing the homeless in securing permanent housing. Among their recommendations was the need to establish measurable goals for the future and to improve the pipeline of information used to track progress.

“This is the first major qualitative and quantitative 10-year study,” Whiteacre says. “It was a privilege to be one of the lead investigators, and it was a great experience for our students to be on the team doing this work.”