Kennesaw State collaborates with Georgia Department of Community Affairs on first statewide homelessness study

More than 75‚000 Georgians are homeless at some point during the year. That was the key finding of…

Georgia (Jul 17, 2008) — Kennesaw State collaborates with Georgia Department of Community Affairs on first statewide homelessness study

Aixa Pascual


Director of University Relations
Frances Weyand Harrison

Kimberly King‚ Georgia Department of Community Affairs Communications‚ (404) 679−0615 office or (404) 272−5604 mobile; or
Aixa Pascual‚ Kennesaw State University‚ (678) 797−2549 or

Kennesaw State collaborates with Georgia Department of Community Affairs on first statewide homelessness study
KSU statistics professors developed innovative technique for homeless count

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (July 17‚ 2008) −− More than 75‚000 Georgians are homeless at some point during the year.

That was the key finding of the first statewide study on the homeless population conducted this year by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in collaboration with Kennesaw State University.

Using an innovative sampling methodology and predictive model developed by KSU statistics professors Jennifer Priestley and Victor Kane‚ the study estimated that there were more than 20‚000 people in Georgia who were homeless during the night of January 27‚ 2008. The A. L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research at KSU conducted the census from the data collected at each of the localities doing the count‚ said director Carol Pierannunzi. The institute also conducted a census of homeless persons incarcerated in all jails on the night of Jan 27‚ by contacting each jail and collecting information.

A statistical methodology was selected because a physical count of homeless individuals across the state would not have been feasible.

Instead‚ the homeless counts were estimated‚ using a statistical methodology known as cluster analysis‚ which forms groups or “clusters” of counties by demographic and economic characteristics as well as other variables obtained from the U.S. Census. Once the nine clusters were established and validated‚ homeless counts from one or two counties were obtained in January of 2008. The ratio of the homeless population in these counties was then applied to the other counties in the cluster. The study also used 2007 homeless count data from Bibb‚ Cobb‚ DeKalb‚ Fulton and Lowndes counties.

“The modeling effort was challenging”‚ says Jennifer Priestley‚ assistant professor of statistics at KSU. “We determined that cluster analysis – a technique heavily used in consumer marketing – was the best solution to creating the estimates. Once we had an estimate of the homeless population in all 159 counties‚ we were then able to apply more traditional techniques to the process”.

The report was released at a press conference held at the Genesis homeless shelter in Atlanta July 16. Lindsey Stillman of the Department of Community Affairs served as the study's lead project manager.

Other highlights of the groundbreaking study include:

o Extreme poverty and personal vulnerability were identified as the leading causes of homelessness in Georgia. The state's poorest citizens have the greatest risk of becoming homeless. Personal situations that left individuals and families vulnerable to the loss of housing included mental illness‚ substance abuse‚ developmental or physical disabilities (including chronic medical problems)‚ family violence‚ eviction and criminal backgrounds.

o Homeless Georgians ranged in age from 0 to 65 years old.

o Although there were more homeless people in the urban counties such as Fulton and DeKalb‚ some of the more rural counties actually experience a much larger percentage of their overall population as homeless.

Additional partners in the homelessness study included the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless; the state's other Continuums of Care (Chatham‚ Clarke‚ Cobb‚ DeKalb‚ Fulton‚ Muscogee and Richmond counties); numerous state agencies; homeless advocates and other statewide experts.

The study indicates that the most effective strategy for addressing homelessness is moving individuals and families into permanent housing as quickly as possible. Providing services to persons in stable housing situations have proven to be more beneficial and more cost effective than emergency−like responses.

The DCA will conduct a count in 2009. Specific dates and counties are being determined. For additional information on DCA's homeless programs‚ please visit

A full copy of the study (Adobe Acrobat required) is available on DCA's website at:


A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 20'000 from 142 countries. The third−largest university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including new doctorates in education and business.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit