The National Academies

ACRP 03-59 [Pending]

Strategies to Address Homelessness at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 12 months
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete



There has been an increase in the number of homeless individuals at airports in recent years.  There are many reasons for this increase, including a reduced number of city shelters and the attractiveness of airports for homeless people due to their relative safety, transit accessibility, climate controlled shelter, and access to food and amenities.  Responses to homeless people at airports have varied.  Many airports wrestle with how to balance their primary function of serving the traveling public with dealing respectfully with people experiencing homelessness.  In addition, homeless people may have physical and mental challenges and may add potential safety and security issues for airports.  Research is needed to help airports partner with local community-based resources for developing and implementing strategies to address homelessness at airport facilities.




The objective of this research is to develop a primer and guidebook to help airport operators understand and respond to homeless people at their facility.


The primer should provide (at a minimum):

  • Overview of homelessness in the United States (e.g., definition, causation);
  • Discussion of homelessness at airports, including:
    • Factors and services (e.g., public transportation access) that attract homeless people to airports;
    • Potential impacts of homeless populations on airport operations;
    • Trends and factors affecting how airports have addressed homelessness, including community size, airport size, governance, socioeconomic factors, resource availability, evolving social perception; and
  • List of resources. 

The guidebook should include (at a minimum):

  • Guidelines for developing scalable strategies to address and mitigate homelessness at airports that consider:
    • Airport size;
    • Governance structure;
    • Resource availability (e.g., health experts, legal advocacy, social services);
    • Regional factors (e.g., community size, socioeconomics, transit services);
    • Balancing customer experience, secure and safe operations, and response to individuals experiencing homelessness;
    • Identifying partners and developing a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach,
    • Identification and implementation of appropriate intervention measures; and
    • Identifying sources for additional funding (e.g., grant programs);
  • Case study examples (both airport an relevant non-airport);
  • Strategy tracking and assessment tools; and
  • Examples of training materials specific to homelessness at airports.



The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.


The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables: 

  • Homelessness organization outreach plan (e.g., meeting with advocacy groups, service providers) to ensure the perspective of the subject population is included in the research;
  • Recommended case studies and rationale; and
  • Interim report documenting the research efforts and results of the project to date, including a literature review, outlines for the primer and guidebook, and recommended next steps. 

The research plan also should also include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution; (2) web meeting to approve homelessness organization outreach plan and case studies; and (3) interim meeting to review the results of the interim report.


The final deliverables will include:

  • Primer;
  • Guidebook;
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo;
  • Technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

Status: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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