Treatment Not Custody

Process and Impact Evaluation of the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court

by Maya Buenaventura

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This dissertation is a process and impact evaluation of the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court. At homeless courts, misdemeanor quality of life cases arising from an individual's homelessness are resolved through alternative sentencing that requires participants to work towards permanent housing and obtain treatment to address underlying issues such as mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Although homeless courts have the potential to increase permanent housing placement and decrease recidivism, homeless courts have not been well-studied. There is only one publicly available homeless court evaluation, which included a recidivism impact analysis using an unmatched comparison group and did not include a housing impact analysis.

My research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to answer the following research questions:

  1. How do government entities and non-profit social service organizations work together to deliver the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court?
  2. How can the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court's enrollment and retention be improved?
  3. Is graduation from the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court associated with improved housing outcomes and decreased recidivism?

Table of Contents

  • Part One


  • Part Two

    Literature Review

  • Part Three

    Qualitative Methods Used to Examine Program Delivery and Explore Potential Ways to Improve Enrollment and Retention

  • Part Four

    How Do Government Entities and Non-Profit Social Service Organizations Work Together to Deliver the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court (Research Question 1)?

  • Part Five

    Part V: How Can the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court's Enrollment and Retention Be Improved (Research Question 2)?

  • Part Six

    Quantitative Methods Used to Estimate Effect of Graduation on Housing Outcomes

  • Part Seven

    Is Graduation from the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court Associated with Improved Housing Outcomes (Research Question 3)?

  • Part Eight

    Conclusions and Policy Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Interview Protocols

  • Appendix B

    Technical Appendix

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in July 2018 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Sarah Hunter (Chair), Matthew Cefalu, and James Anderson.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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