The University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, one of the National Center’s regional partners, has created seven research clusters that organize faculty into academic “communities” based on similar areas of interest. The goal of this cluster model is to foster research innovations, support interdisciplinary collaboration, further develop existing areas of excellence, and provide a framework for doctoral education and training.

The Homelessness, Housing, and Social Environment research cluster focuses on enhancing the health and well-being of persons experiencing homelessness and on solutions to homelessness through permanent housing and supportive services.

The cluster is a recognized repository of expertise and research on the health, social, and human rights challenges of homelessness and solutions to homelessness. The specific goals of the cluster are to:

  • Improve the physical, behavioral, and sexual health of people experiencing homelessness;
  • Ameliorate homelessness through scientific research guided by an ecological framework that focuses on both individual and societal contexts; and
  • Support the translation of research into sustainable and comprehensive community-based interventions.

The cluster sustains collaborative relations with an impressive network of community-based organizations in Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest and most visible homeless populations in the nation, and across the U.S. The cluster is also expanding its international associations. Collaborative partners both locally and beyond are engaged with cluster members in both research and policy development. Recent funding awards include:

  • An NIMH R01 to investigate HIV risk in homeless youth through innovative use of social media and social networking theory (Eric Rice: PI);
  • A NIDA R21 to adapt and test evidence-based HIV/AIDS risk reduction interventions for homeless women (Suzanne Wenzel: PI);
  • A NIDA R01 to longitudinally investigate the transition to permanent supportive housing and its social and health consequences among chronically homeless men and women (Suzanne Wenzel: PI);
  • A Southern California CTSI grant to test feasibility and acceptability of innovative assessment technologies among adults experiencing serious mental illness and homelessness (Benjamin Henwood: PI).

Additionally, the cluster’s proposal on Ending Homelessness was recently selected as a Grand Challenge for Social Work by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. A recent blog post by the National Center featured this impressive accomplishment.

Blog Post Author: Amanda Aykanian, Research and Project Lead at the National Center
Special thanks to Suzanne Wenzel for contributing content for this blog post.


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