Spring 2020 - 58195 - PA 680PB - Policy Research Project | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2020 - 58195 - PA 680PB - Policy Research Project

Policy Responses for Opioid Addiction for Homeless Populations

The opioid epidemic has reached nationally recognized crisis levels.  In 2016 close to 60,000 Americans lost their lives to opioids and another half a million deaths are projected within the next decade if current trends continue.  Opioid addiction has been widely recognized as a public health epidemic and its victims cut across geographic, racial, and class lines.  However, the challenges facing the homeless are especially steep in seeking solutions to opioid recovery. 

This Policy Research Project will take the perspective of a comprehensive social enterprise whose mission it is to help individuals transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.   This PRP will grapple with the complicated questions that the nation faces in how to best address the opioid epidemic among the homeless.  This project will take a deep dive into the opioid epidemic from a public health perspective but also one that considers the wrap around services needed to help in the recovery process. One of the central questions for this PRP is the use of methadone in recovery—its benefits, challenges and unintended consequences.  A secondary question for this project is to look at how national, state, and philanthropic monies are allocated to different treatment programs and how recovery success is complimented or complicated by existing funding practices.

Students will conduct research for ASafeHaven, the PRP client, related to opioid addiction and how to treat it in the process of transitioning homeless populations to self-sufficiency.  ASafeHaven has targeted programming for the following homeless populations:  military veterans, women with children, families, youth (18-24), non-violent criminal justice impacted populations, and single adults.  Each of these demographics faces particular challenges unique to their life context.  As such, this research project will consider the variance of recovery needs for the different groups. 

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to equip participants with a set of tools that are tangible and relevant within the contemporary policy making environment.   Participants will gain an in-depth knowledge in the policy areas of homelessness and opioid addiction/recovery through original and secondary research.  Policy Research Project participants will work with ASafeHaven to analyze data on its current and past clients.  They will also review ASafeHaven’s evaluation instruments seeking to maximize the efficiency of the client’s evaluation practices. 

Participants will review original policy documents, hear from a range of guest speakers as well as conduct elite interviews and where applicable focus groups.  There will also be opportunities for most, if not all, students to conduct interviews and field research in Chicago and at ASafeHaven. 

T 2:00PM to 5:00PM
SRH 3.312/3.360