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Submitted to Qualitative Inquiry

Reducing Recurrent Homelessness: Some Methodological Lessons from the Critical Time Intervention Experiment

Anthony Marcus Ph.D
City University of New York
Social Networks Research Group

It is well established that quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews can easily complement each other. However, as one moves deeper into their respective “territories”, towards randomized control trials and ethnography the potential for misunderstanding increases. This article examines the tensions and possibilities in this relationship through the first ethnographic assessment of Critical Time Intervention (CTI), a randomized clinical trial of an experiment in reducing homelessness among mentally ill men in New York City in the early 1990s. CTI has had a decade of positive quantitative assessments, praise from President George W. Bush’s 2003 New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and replication attempts, but its ethnographic data has not been used in evaluation. This article seeks to correct this omission and reveal some of the broader challenges to creating a qualitative/quantitative synthesis.