The NYC Department of Homeless Services, curious to see how effectively it services the homeless, is being berated for conducting a study that left 200 families banned at random from city assistance. In lieu of gentler polling, a total of 400 families on the brink of homelessness were split into two categories: An experimental group, who were allowed to continue their use of the service, and a control group, who were banned from receiving aid for two years and told to fend for themselves.
Homebase, the service in question, helps 7,700 people a year prevent homelessness though emergency rental assistance, job training and tenant/landlord remediation, according to their website. The 200 banned families were sent a letter with the names of other agencies who might help, and the notification that the city would be tracking their progress through their social security numbers.
"We serve thousands of people through this program, and this study is only looking at 400 people," Deputy Homeless Services Commissioner Ellen Howard-Cooper told the Daily News in defense of the experiment, which was embarrassingly halted by her higher-ups on Tuesday. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer wasn't buying the "greater good" schtick, calling the method "bizarre. It's like they're being cast to the wind." And with them went the $368,000 in taxpayer money used to fund the analysis flop.