Comparative Effectiveness Research for the Homeless

(I’m not making this up.)

It has long been the standard practice in medical testing: Give drug treatment to one group while another, the control group, goes without.

Now, New York City is applying the same methodology to assess one of its programs to prevent homelessness. Half of the test subjects — people who are behind on rent and in danger of being evicted — are being denied assistance from the program for two years, with researchers tracking them to see if they end up homeless.

Full article on the New York social welfare experiment.

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bruce says:

    Very funny post.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    I find it interesting how all the ethicists scream foul when confronted with the notion that aide money is a finite resource. Somehow reducing expenditures while finding out what actually works (by using control subjects) is immoral in the judgment of these people.

  3. Larry C. says:

    I agree with Bruce. This is funny in a cruel sort of way. Call it gallows humor.

  4. Erik says:

    This was a funny comment from the article.

    mr5roses New York December 9th, 20108:40 am

    “What a great idea! Let’s do the same thing with extending tax cuts for the wealthy! Extend them to half of those who qualify for two years, and then count how many jobs they’ve created!”

    Recommended by 229 Readers

  5. Brian Williams. says:

    I’ve long wanted to conduct a similar experiment between people who voted for President Obama and those who didn’t. Divide the two groups, allowing no contact between each other. After two years, I wonder which group would be more prosperous. I fear one of the groups might go extinct.

  6. The idea is gereat. Unfortunately, I believe that the experiment is flawed, because it studies only the Homebase program. As was clear in the article, the subjects can avail themselves of other programs that are funded by taxpayers.

    So, the outcome will only show whether the breathtakingly confusing duplication of welfare programs is navigable by the dependents. I have zero doubt that the answer is a resounding affirmative.

    A better experiment would be to have a group that received no government welfare versus one that was able to use all services available. Would volunteers and non-profit groups pitch in to help? Would the dependents figure out how not to end up homeless? Would they get jobs? Would they stop having babies?

    The critical thing to understand is the effect of government welfare versus private and self-generated welfare, not two or more government programs with different names but the same agenda.

  7. Vicki says:

    This is a perfect match with your post on abandoning your spouse. Both show the relative heartlessness of public poicies.