Ellen Ward

2011 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 1, 2011

Graduate Degree:MIT
Undergraduate Degree:Wake Forest University
Area of Interest:Housing Issues
Mentor:Chrystal Kornegay, Executive Director, UrbanEdge
Agency:Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor:Lizbeth Heyer, Acting Associate Director of Public Housing and Rental Assistance
Project Description:This summer Ellen had the unique opportunity to work for the State of Massachusetts in the Department of Housing and Community Development. She says unique, because she was able to work on a team of seven people to design, develop, and implement a new program, HomeBASE, that completed the reform of the State’s Emergency Assistance System. Targeted to extremely low-income families who are facing homelessness, this program provides a housing-first response to families in an effort to stabilize their housing situation and set them on a path toward economic self-sufficiency. It is the first ever housing-first program to be adopted at a statewide level and is projected to produce significant cost savings for the State while better serving homeless families. Her specific roles included managing the data, reporting, and evaluation of the program, training program staff, and working with the legal team to develop and institute the documents necessary to effectively administer the program. As part of the data collection and evaluation, she developed a reporting framework that includes both qualitative and quantitative measures to accurately assess the impact of the policy change. Going forward, the framework will be a tool for other states and municipalities interested in adopting a housing-first response to homelessness.

The Rappaport Fellowship has been an invaluable experience. I have had the opportunity to work with extremely bright people and be involved in a program from inception to implementation. It has opened my eyes to the challenges and strengths of working in the public sector and given me a new passion for public service. I hope to continue my work in public policy and am grateful for the foundation this fellowship has laid.