Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children


This report investigates the availability of data with which to construct a typology of homeless families with the hope that such a typology would foster a better understanding of these families' characteristics, service needs, interactions with human services systems, and the dynamics of their use of emergency shelter and other services and assistance. The purpose of this report is to identify key knowledge gaps regarding homeless families and to consider whether these gaps may most efficiently be filled through secondary analysis of existing data, adding questions or a module to planned surveys that include low-income populations, or whether additional primary data would be needed. Ultimately, it is intended that an improved understanding of the characteristics of homeless families with children will guide the development of appropriate service responses to such families and provide an empirical foundation for the design of homelessness prevention and intervention approaches. The project consisted of three phases: assessing the availability of already existing data that could be mined through secondary data analysis; proposing a set of questions to modify existing and ongoing surveys that would allow for the key research questions related to homeless families to be answered, and conceptualizing various primary data collections that would specifically collect the kind of data required to develop a typology of homeless families. The research recommendations described in this report lay the foundation for future data collection efforts affecting policy and programmatic decisions for homeless families with children. [334 PDF pages]

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