Another especially promising RCT of the past 18 months: @urbaninstitute’s study of the Denver Supportive Housing SIB initiative, providing housing & supportive services to homeless people with over 7 prior arrests. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds roughly 30–40% reductions in jail & shelter use, emergency department visits, & arrests over 2–3 yrs.


  • Per the study report: The program "provided a housing subsidy and supportive services focused on helping residents stay housed. [It] used a Housing First approach that aimed to quickly get people out of homelessness and into housing, without requiring that participants meet preconditions ..."

Study Design:

  • The study randomly assigned 724 homeless people with over 7 prior arrests to a program group vs control group (which received usual community services). Based on careful review, I believe this was a high-quality RCT (e.g., with good baseline balance, negligible attrition).


  • The program reduced days in jail by 28%, days in shelter by 35%, and number of arrests by 41% over 3 years; & emergency department visits by 39% over 2 years. All of these effects were statistically significant.

  • The savings from reduced use of such services offset roughly half the program's cost of $12-15K/person/year.


  • Disclosure: My former employer, Arnold Ventures, helped fund this Social Impact Bond initiative and study. The main study reports are here, here, and here.

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