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The Regional Task Force on Homelessness released its 2022 WeAllCount Point-in-Time Count — a single-day snapshot of the homeless population in San Diego County. Photo by Joe Orellana
File photo by Joe Orellana
CommunityRegionSan Diego

County teams up with MIT for senior homeless prevention pilot

REGION — The County of San Diego was selected this week to team up with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research center for assistance on evaluating a pilot program aimed at preventing low-income seniors from becoming homeless.

The county’s Office of Evaluation, Performance and Analytics will work with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, also known as J-PAL North America.

According to a county statement, together they will design a data-based “randomized evaluation” of the county’s Shallow Rental Subsidy Program. The program is intended to keep low-income seniors from becoming homeless by paying them a rent subsidy.

“This evaluation will help us understand if senior incentives work, if they keep people housed, and give us data about how to move forward,” said Ricardo Basurto-Dávila, head of OEPA.

The rental subsidy program was approved by the county Board of Supervisors in 2022. It is managed by the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities in the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

According to the county, the program provides $500-a-month subsidies to the landlords of low-income seniors who are rent-burdened and at risk of becoming homeless. The subsidies are paid for 18 months.

The people in the program “were selected by a random selection process from a pool of qualified applicants.”

A simple evaluation of the program would just track the people receiving the subsidies and record how many of them were able to remain in their homes. The randomized study will also measure and compare outcomes for people who receive the subsidies against a similar group of seniors who did not receive them, the county statement reads.

“This comparison gives us more confidence that the results of the study will reflect the actual impact of the program,” Basurto-Dávila said.

San Diego County created the OEPA in 2021 to use an analytical approach to sift through the county’s collection of data.

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