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RWP 22-03, March 2022

Housing First programs provide housing assistance without preconditions for homeless individuals as a platform for rehabilitation. Despite the programs’ increasing popularity, limited evidence exists on their effects on socioeconomic outcomes. Using a novel dataset combining administrative records from multiple public agencies in Los Angeles County and a random case manager assignment design, I estimate that Housing First assistance reduces homelessness and crime, increases income and employment, and does not have a detectable effect on health-care utilization. Cost-benefit analysis implies that these potential savings offset program costs within 18 months. These findings demonstrate that Housing First can be rehabilitative and cost-effective.

JEL Classifications: H42, I38, J18

Article Citation

  • Cohen, Elior. 2022. “The Effect of Housing First Programs on Future Homelessness and Socioeconomic Outcomes.” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Research Working Paper no. 22-03, March. Available at External Link


  • Evans, William N., David C. Philips, and Krista J. Ruffini. 2019. “Reducing and Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the Evidence and Charting a Research Agenda.” National Bureau of Economic Research, working paper no. 26232, September. Available at External Link

  • Gubits, Daniel, Marybeth Shinn, Michelle Wood, Scott R. Brown, Samuel R. Dastrup, and Stephen H. Bell. 2018. “What Interventions Work Best for Families Who Experience Homelessness? Impact Estimates from the Family Options Study.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 835–866. Available at External Link

  • Kertesz, Stefan G., and Guy Johnson. 2017. “Housing First: Lessons from the United States and Challenges for Australia.” Australian Economic Review, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 220–228. Available at External Link

  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Permanent Supportive Housing: Evaluating the Evidence for Improving Health Outcomes Among People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

  • O’Flaherty, Brendan. 2019. “Homelessness Research: A Guide for Economists (and Friends).” Journal of Housing Economics, vol. 44, pp. 1–25. Available at External Link


Elior Cohen


Elior Cohen is an economist at the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His research interests lie at the intersection of labor and public eco…