News Release

Research project initiated with federal funding to improve service delivery for homeless

Grant and Award Announcement

Bentley University

Researchers from Bentley University are initiating a project funded by the National Science Foundation (award # 1951896; $140,421) to explore long term homelessness and minimize recidivism. The project will establish the technical and community infrastructure needed to address these difficult and complex research problems.

The research team will conduct pilots and experimentation, in collaboration with community partners, to explore two directions. They will explore analytical models that may help shelters match a homeless individual's needs against the right services. They will explore process modeling to improve triage efforts at the shelter.

These efforts build on their ongoing research in this domain. In particular, the team has investigated computational models to explore the slide to long-term homelessness (published in the IEEE Conference on Business Informatics, 2019); and combining customized case-management with traditional process modeling in their prior research (published in the European Conference on Information Systems, 2020).

The community partner for their effort will be Pine Street Inn, New England's largest homeless shelter, as well as other agencies that care for the homeless within the Greater Boston ecosystem. The team will also leverage data obtained from both the City of Boston, and the Pine Street Inn, among others, to develop and test analytical models.

"The planned work will ensure the availability and quality of data for the analytical modeling efforts, and to cultivate and strengthen partnerships needed for a program of research," says Dr. Monica Garfield, one of the investigators and a professor of computer information systems.

"We hope to combine process modeling with primary data collection from the case workers to better understand how such analytical tools may be incorporated with existing work practices at these shelters," adds Dr. Purao, another investigator in the team, and a professor of information & process management.

Over the last two years, the research team has continued to build connections within the Greater Boston community of agencies that care for the homeless, and plan to build on these to develop a robust research agenda. The research is important because homelessness continues to be a significant concern. The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress shows more than half a million people were experiencing homelessness across the United States including many children and families. Understanding how the problem can be mitigated, and supporting work practices at the homeless shelters can, therefore, have a direct impact on the problem.


Garfield, M. (PI), and S. Purao (Co-PI). 2020. SCC-PG: Improving Service Delivery for the Homeless with Analytics and Process Modeling - Community Engagement and Capacity Building. National Science Foundation. Award #1951896, Smart and Connected Communities. Division of Computer and Network Systems. $140,421.

Purao, S., Garfield, M., Gu, X. and Bhetwal, P., 2019, July. Predicting the Slide to Long-Term Homelessness: Model and Validation. In 2019 IEEE 21st Conference on Business Informatics (CBI) (Vol. 1, pp. 31-40). IEEE.

Purao, S., M. Garfield. 2020. Process Modeling in Humanitarian Settings: A Case Study and Lessons Learned. European Conference on Information Systems.

About Bentley University

Bentley University is more than just one of the nation's top business schools. It is a lifelong-learning community that creates successful leaders who make business a force for positive change. With a combination of business and the arts and sciences and a flexible, personalized approach to education, Bentley provides students with critical thinking and practical skills that prepare them to lead successful, rewarding careers. Founded in 1917, the university enrolls 4,200 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate and PhD students and is set on 163 acres in Waltham, Massachusetts, 10 miles west of Boston. For more information, visit

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