Findings Report: Evaluating New Housing Services
By Chelsea Mauldin / December 1, 2014
After 2+ years of discovery, collaborative design, and pilot testing—including over 250,000 downloads of tools we designed with low-income residents and service providers—we’re very proud to publish findings from our ambitious partnership with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Parsons DESIS Lab to collaboratively design services for New Yorkers seeking affordable housing.
Download our free findings report, Evaluating New Housing Services or read the City’s press release about our work together, where David Quart, HPD’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Commissioner of Strategy, Research, and Communication, says:
The partnership with PPL and DESIS has transformed our ability to identify and respond to New Yorkers’ needs for information about housing opportunities… Working within various communities to design more easily understandable materials and conduct outreach is not simply the smartest and most straightforward way to operate, it also strengthens connections between government and New Yorkers in a meaningful way.
What We Did
Our project team designed four new services. We created the designs collaboratively, with city residents and housing service providers, then HPD pilot-tested the new materials and services. Then, to tell if our designs worked as intended, Public Policy Lab fellows Liana Dragoman and Kaja Kühl developed a preliminary evaluation plan and carried out qualitative and quantitative assessments of impact. We surveyed more than 2,500 housing applicants. We also interviewed and observed dozens of members of the public and service providers as they used our new services.
So what did we learn from our four pilots? That New Yorkers are hungry for actionable info about affordable housing. And that the tools and services we designed helped. Testers said they (or the residents they serve) could better understand the application process, make housing decisions, and share knowledge about housing with their friends and family.
What’s next? The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development is taking steps to scale up at least two of the pilot programs. The new guides and housing ads we designed are being translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Creole, and other languages for wider distribution, and talks are underway with community organizations to grow the number of trained and supported housing ambassadors.
The complete evaluation report, Evaluating New Housing Services, captures our findings in detail, as well as recommendations for scaling the four services. This free PDF download also includes appendices containing our evaluation, plan, user testing scripts, user surveys, and other research materials.
It’s our hope that this evaluation will inspire and support similar efforts by other design practitioners to carry out and publish assessments of programs to innovate public services.
This project was generously supported by a Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund award.