NYU Silver Study Counters Narrative that Street Homeless Are “Service Resistant”

A team of researchers from the NYU Silver School of Social Work, led by End Homelessness Grand Challenge network co-lead Deborah Padgett, PhD, MPH, and in partnership with Human.nyc, has found that bureaucratic barriers rather than personal intransigence lead many street homeless people in New York City to refuse outreach workers’ offers of shelter.

For six months beginning in September 2017, members of Dr. Padgett’s team randomly sampled and interviewed 33 men and 10 women living on the streets in Manhattan neighborhoods with high concentrations of street homelessness. Interviewers asked participants about barriers they faced in obtaining housing and accessing services, their interactions with outreach workers, and any experiences with the New York City shelter system.

When New York City announced expanded homeless outreach efforts in January 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “It can take dozens or more contacts to convince homeless New Yorkers to come in off the streets and into permanent housing.” In fact, Dr. Padgett said, “Our research indicates that if people were really being offered permanent housing, they would take it without hesitation. The allure of living on the streets is a myth.”

Read more about the study and Dr. Padgett’s work.