In the name of getting good statistical data, New York City is randomly denying poor people access to a program designed to stave off homelessness. If those unlucky people become homeless, you know it works! Oh... is that frowned upon?
The program in question is called Homebase. It gives rental assistance, job training, and other benefits to people facing "immediate housing problems that could result in becoming homeless." People in imminent danger of being on the street. The poorest of the poor, next to actual homeless people.
To find out whether or not Homebase really works, the city is conducting a study. As the NYT puts it, "Half of the test subjects - people who are behind on rent and in danger of being evicted - are being denied assistance from the program for two years, with researchers tracking them to see if they end up homeless." Which, in the name of science, results in things like this:
Angie Almodovar, 27, a single mother who is pregnant with her third child, ended up in the study group denied Homebase assistance. "I wanted to cry, honestly speaking," Ms. Almodovar said. "Homebase at the time was my only hope."
Yes, there are other assistance programs that people can apply for, and yes, data is good. But, you know, "Does emergency assistance help people in crisis not become homeless?" I'm gonna say you don't actually need to watch people become homeless in order to figure out the answer to that. Now, "Do million-dollar salaries help bloggers write better blogs?" There's some intriguing science for you.