Maass and Kaya’s Research on Youth Homelessness Featured in ISE Magazine

MIE Assistant Professor Kayse Lee Maass and Alumna Yaren Bilge Kaya, PhD’23, (currently faculty at Columbia University) were featured in the February 2024 issue of ISE Magazine for their research on improving access to housing and support services for runaway and homeless youth with a data-driven optimization approach to understand and project the necessary capacity of service provides to support this population.

Shedding Light on the Growing Capacity Needs for Youth Services in NYC

Within the busy streets of New York City (NYC) lies a hidden challenge: supporting runaway and homeless youth (RHY). These young individuals, often unnoticed, face insufficient community support and the ever-present risk of human trafficking and exploitation arising from vulnerabilities such as a lack of safe and appropriate housing options. This critical issue is central to the study “Improving Access to Housing and Supportive Services for RHY: Reducing Vulnerability to Human Trafficking in NYC”, which explores the complexities of providing essential support services to over one hundred thousand RHY in NYC.

Northeastern University’s Yaren Bilge Kaya (currently a lecturer at Columbia University) and Assistant Professor Kayse Lee Maass; Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Geri Dimas (now Assistant Professor at Bryant University) and Associate Professors Renata Konrad and Andrew Trapp; and New York University Research Professor Meredith Dank use a RHY-informed, data-driven optimization approach to understand and project the necessary capacity of service providers in NYC to support youth experiencing homelessness.

Their innovative approach introduces a unique mixed-integer linear optimization formulation that identifies the cost-minimizing allocation of service resources to meet the collective needs of RHY. This approach is informed by surveys of RHY and interviews with service providers, ensuring that the model is grounded in real-world insights and reflects a community-based perspective.

The IISE Transactions paper skillfully balances several dynamic factors critical for supporting RHY. It navigates the latent patterns of youth arrivals in the city and caters to their varied service needs, ranging from immediate to long-term care. The model also integrates the periodicity of service provision, recognizing that some support services are required at specific intervals. It further factors in the timing of services, ensuring that the allocation of resources aligns with the specific temporal needs and availability of these services.

The findings of this study bring to light the pressing need to bridge the gap between current service capabilities and the critical needs of NYC’s RHY. This research advocates for a collaborative approach to ensure accessible services for these at-risk individuals. By laying the foundation for a more inclusive and supportive urban environment, our work aims to empower these young people to successfully navigate their challenges and thrive.

This “Research” section is provided for informational purposes only with permission of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers from the February 2024 issue of ISE Magazine, Copyright©2024. All rights reserved.

Read the Associated Research Paper

Improving access to housing and supportive services for runaway and homeless youth: Reducing vulnerability to human trafficking in New York City” published in the IISE Transactions Special Issue on Analytical and Engineering Approaches for Detecting, Disrupting, and Dismantling Illicit Trafficking Operations and Markets.

Related Departments:Mechanical & Industrial Engineering