Washington State Diversion Study: A Study of Diversion Services for Families

Published: December 5, 2022

Diversion is an approach that homeless response systems can use to help people quickly resolve a housing crisis. Building Changes has helped to develop and refine a Diversion model based in part on our work with counties, nonprofits, and philanthropies across Washington State. The model addresses people’s individual needs and provides them with agency and choice. It includes creative problem solving to generate custom, person-centered solutions; light case management to reduce barriers; and one-time financial assistance when needed to cover expenses such as move-in costs, security deposit, past-due eviction debt, and car repair.

Building Changes partnered with Clarus Research to conduct a mixed-methods study to analyze the impact of Diversion services on housing outcomes for families in Washington State and the extent to which these services are racially equitable. The study included a statistical analysis of a sample of 13,876 families who received Diversion and other housing services, as well as 89 qualitative interviews with families of color who received Diversion services, Diversion service providers, and county representatives.

The findings show that Diversion can be more effective than other housing services at getting people into permanent housing, and it is racially equitable.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Families in our sample who utilized Diversion services were more likely to have permanent housing at service exit than those who received a collection of other housing services.
  • Families who utilized Diversion services were no more or less likely to return to the homeless services system than those who used other housing services.
  • Families of color who utilized Diversion services were more likely to have permanent housing at service exit compared to families of color who received other housing services.
  • Families of color reported both good and bad experiences with Diversion, but most experiences were positive. Overall, families of color found Diversion services helpful and most reported improvements in well-being.

Read the research brief for an overview of the methodology and key findings.

Read the full study for more details on the methodology, analysis, and findings, including quotes from families and case managers who were interviewed.

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