HPRI Announces New Director

The Homelessness Policy Research Institute (HPRI) at the University of Southern California (USC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ben Henwood, the Frances L. and Albert G. Feldman Professor of Social Policy and Health at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, as its new director. HPRI is a collaborative of over one hundred researchers, policymakers, service providers and experts with lived experience of homelessness dedicated to accelerating equitable and culturally-informed solutions to homelessness in Los Angeles County. Effective July 1, 2024, HPRI will be jointly operated and managed by USC Social Work and USC Price, with its physical location at USC Social Work on the UPC campus.


An expert in health and housing research, Henwood brings specific expertise in permanent supportive housing, improving care for adults experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness, and the integration of primary and behavioral health care. He is a co-author of the book “Housing First” which chronicles the paradigm-shifting, evidence-based model for ending homelessness built upon the principles of consumer choice, harm reduction and immediate access to permanent, independent housing in the community. Henwood led the launch, and served as national co-lead, for the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness established by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.


Henwood also serves as director of the Center for Homelessness, Housing and Health Equity Research (H3E), which he established at USC Social Work in 2019 to conduct intervention-focused research and train homeless service practitioners in evidence-based solutions to reduce homelessness and health disparities. The research that is conducted at H3E is primarily funded through scientific organizations including the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). H3E also partners with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to conduct the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count annually, which is the largest unsheltered homeless count in the United States.


As director of both H3E and HPRI, Henwood will leverage the scientifically rigorous research and training conducted at H3E with the collective impact model of HPRI that has focused on academic-community partnerships across institutions and the dissemination of research to inform policy. Currently, H3E is conducting one of the only randomized control trials of a basic income program for people experiencing homelessness in the United States, and HPRI recently hosted a national symposium on the use of basic income programs to address homelessness. A policy brief on this subject was released by members of the HPRI collaborative, citing H3E’s research to underscore the game changing potential of basic income in finding solutions for homelessness. Discussions with local policy makers on the design of a basic income program in Los Angeles County are now underway.


Under Henwood’s leadership, both H3E and HPRI will continue to focus on their core missions:H3E conducting rigorous scientific research and training practitioners, and HPRI engaging diverse stakeholders and partners to facilitate high-impact research. Through its ability to translate and disseminate existing research from its collective members, HPRI has the capacity to conduct rapid response research that can meet the needs of local policymakers, but which may not qualify for scientific research funding. H3E and HPRI also share a theoretical framework that focuses on advancing race equity as a critical component in solving homelessness.