Ecological Predictors of Entry into Philadelphia’s Homeless Shelter System

Presentation by David W. Bartelt
March 21, 2014

(Inactive) Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project   (Philadelphia)

Author: David Bartelt, Temple University; Karin Eyrich-Garg, Temple University; Brian Lockwood, Monmouth University

This paper reports on the empirical investigation of factors in community composition that are linked with entry into homelessness, or specifically, entry into the City of Philadelphia’s emergency shelter system. This study seeks to understand the likelihood of entering the homeless shelter system by members of communities that share a set of housing, economic, and demographic characteristics, as reflected in differential levels of community capital, human service support features, and levels of criminal activity. It examines the spatial arrangement of community stressors and their effects in generating differential rates of entry into that city’s shelter system. This study used a sample of adults entering the Philadelphia Supportive Housing Shelter system between February 2008 and January 2010. After limiting the cases to those for whom we had a prior locatable address (10,875 of the 20,950 case records; 8,432 unduplicated records were used), we linked individual addresses to census tracts, and constructed a ratio of homeless system entrants per 1,000 residents in each tract. After regressing this measure on a series of demographic, socioeconomic, and other salient community characteristics, our preliminary results indicate that basic demographic characteristics of communities provide minimal predictive value regarding variations in rates of homelessness. Additionally, while housing and socioeconomic predictors improve the level of explained variation, even stronger levels of explanation are provided when the level of halfway houses and drug/alcohol treatment centers and crime rates are introduced. The paper concludes with some suggestions for further analyses of community predictors of homelessness, as well as explorations of policy or program development.

Powerpoint file coming soon.