UAlbany School of Social Welfare Plans National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services

Initiative Supports National HUD Goal to Eliminate Homelessness in Next Decade

A homeless mother and her two children plead for help. SSW's new national center will support HUD's goal of wiping out homelessness in the U.S. in the next decade.

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 4, 2013) -- The University at Albany's School of Social Welfare announces the development of a new center devoted to improving services and support for homeless individuals throughout the United States. The National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services will focus on advancing prevention and intervention services.

Made possible in part through a $50,000 anonymous gift to SSW, the Center grew out of an existing partnership between the School and the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) of California. John Records will serve as a Public Service Professor and co-Principal Investigator to co-direct the Center with UAlbany Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Heather Larkin.

"Given national HUD policy goals to eliminate homelessness in a decade, our new National Center brings creative and exemplary solutions to help policy makers, agencies and providers make the most of scarce resources,” said School of Social Welfare Dean Katharine Briar-Lawson. “Our established and developing partnerships will be critical to our success."

The Center will utilize the “Restorative Integral Support” (RIS) model (developed by Larkin and Records and first implemented at COTS) to improve the effectiveness of homeless service agencies throughout the United States. It will provide training for agency directors to build more effective intervention and support programs. In addition, the center will educate and guide social service agencies personnel in best practices for the prevention of homelessness.

The Center will endeavor to:


  • Provide training and support in RIS model implementation by homeless service agencies and social service agencies helping populations at risk of homelessness;
  • Foster synergies across state legislators, public and private sector as well as university researchers addressing problem areas related to homelessness, such as addictions, trauma, and mental health;
  • Create community-based research team partnerships with agencies implementing the RIS model developed at COTS;
  • Disseminate knowledge through webinars, certificate and online programs, as well as peer-reviewed publications, websites, conference presentations, and partnerships with national organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers, Prevent Child Abuse America, Alliance for Children & Families, National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, SAMHSA; and
  • Mobilize collaborations with other universities to enhance curricular innovations and research on homelessness nationwide and globally.


Larkin said, "I've studied systems integration in social services throughout my education and career, and the Restorative Integral Support model is a wonderfully effective way to bring together evidence based and emerging practices in a sensible and useful manner."

Records, who led a homeless services agency north of San Francisco for over 20 years, said, "I'm delighted to work with UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare to educate policy makers and help agencies make the most of limited resources."

Founded in 1965, the School of Social Welfare is consistently ranked among the top schools of social work. With a strong emphasis on community engagement -- local, national, and international -- the School has a history of developing systems, enhancing community capacities, and pioneering best practices. The School receives more than $9 million a year in grants to fund special projects with national impact. Within recent years, the School has received $18.5 million for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute as well as $3 million annually for the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness and the Center for Human Services Research.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.