European Journal of Homelessness. Volume 15(3), pp. 177-188
To meet the challenges of tackling homelessness in a changing world, we need to understand its extent, causes, and consequences, and the impacts of efforts to prevent and alleviate it. Robust evidence from a diverse range of sources is therefore required to inform policy making and service delivery. One approach to meeting this need is the use of administrative data and data linkage. Administrative data refers to information generated as a by-product of the day-to-day activities of services and organisations (Hand, 2018). Examples of administrative data are records of interactions with housing services, healthcare diagnoses, and benefits received. Although not collected for the purposes of research or evaluation, these data can be enormously useful for studying homelessness, particularly when linked together over time and/or with other data sources (Culhane, 2016). Data linkage involves the joining together of information, usually at an individual level, either using personal details (e.g., name, date of birth, address), or through a unique identifier (e.g., health or social security number).