The 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients: A Comparison of Faith-Based and Secular Non-Profit Programs. Needs of Homeless Assistance Clients

03/19/2002

A major focus of the NSHAPC mail survey was administrators’ perceptions of homeless clients’ needs.18  The survey asked about 59 distinct service needs ranging from food, clothing, and housing to employment and health care (see Table 7 for a complete listing).  The basic question asked of all respondents to the mail survey was:  Please consider your current clients in (your program) who are currently homeless.  How many of these clients need assistance from you or others in obtaining (e.g. health assessment) services?  Based on the responses to these questions, one can determine the share of programs with high levels of need for the various services identified in the survey. 

It is very important to keep in mind that these findings are based on administrators’ perceptions, and are not derived from in-depth needs assessments or even self-reports by homeless clients themselves.19  This distinction is important because the answers given by program staff will reflect only what they think they know about their clients, and this can be quite inaccurate.  The administrator of a soup kitchen, for example, may know about clients’ food needs, but he/she may not know what share of them need mental health services or even whether or not they are homeless.

 

Table 7:
Clients' Service Needs

(% of programs with most or all clients in need of service)
Service Need Faith-Based Non-profit Secular Non-profit Government   Service Need Faith-Based Non-profit Secular Non-profit Government
Food 75.1 68.2 53.7   General Health Care/HIV
Clothing 51.1 36.9 29.4   Health assmt 35.2 50.9 48.5
Life Skills Services   Primary care 32.5 46.8 45.7
Money mgmt 55.1 53.9 50.4   Acute care 7.1 13.3 7.8
Household skills 32.7 35.2 32.5   Prenatal care 6.6 7.4 8.5
Conflict resolution 41.6 51.1 37.6   Immunizations 14.1 16.3 17.0
Parenting training 28.1 29.4 21.1   HIV treatment 3.1 7.8 4.0
Case Management Services   HIV prevention 25.8 35.9 26.6
Needs assmt 58.4 77.2 64.8   TB test 23.3 27.8 25.9
Ind. Goals/Srv Plans 54.3 75.5 60.5   TB treatment 4.8 5.9 6.7
Referral 39.8 62.7 56.8   Dental care 34.8 44.1 35.2
Follow-up 35.3 50.3 43.8   Hospice 2.4 3.0 1.2
Housing Services   Health education 34.2 43.7 35.8
Locate housing 49.2 64.3 53.5   Substance Abuse Services
Apply for housing 31.0 46.2 37.5   Alcohol/drug testing 21.4 19.8 20.0
Financial Assistance 42.1 57.7 55.7   Clin alcohol/drug assmt 20.6 26.2 22.8
Landlord relat 16.1 27.9 19.4   Detoxification 6.8 9.0 8.2
Education Services   Outpatient treatment 8.5 14.4 21.9
School liaison 9.9 15.5 10.9   Residual treatment 6.4 9.1 5.4
Head start 5.7 9.7 12.8   AA 17.3 17.3 16.8
Other child ed 7.7 11.9 11.9   Substance abuse ed 27.6 32.5 31.2
Tutoring 8.5 9.7 10.5   Mental Health Services
ESL 2.0 2.8 3.6   MH assmt 16.2 32.1 30.5
GED 11.0 16.3 10.3   Medical admin. 7.5 16.8 18.8
Family literacy 5.5 6.0 4.0   Crisis intervention 10.4 27.4 22.3
Basic literacy 6.1 6.8 4.9   Outpatient therapy 11.2 26.2 23.4
Adult education 17.2 18.0 16.4   Inpatient/res treatment 4.7 10.1 8.3
Employment Services   Peer group 14.5 24.3 15.7
Job skills assmt 42.4 49.7 51.6   MH education 15.7 25.3 29.2
Job search skills 39.3 41.9 40.6   Other Services
Job referral 43.1 47.0 47.1   Child care 17.7 26.5 11.6
Sp. Job training 25.7 28.5 25.8   DV counseling 8.3 21.9 9.8
Vocational rehab 17.0 18.5 18.1   Legal assistance 7.8 20.3 11.9
Vol job placement 9.7 11.1 6.2   Veterans services 3.6 4.2 10.0

Source:  Urban Institute analysis of NSHAPC program data.  Data represent "an average day in February 1996."


18.  Questions and findings from this section of the survey are limited to homeless clients.

19.  The NSHAPC client survey did ask respondents to identify their top three service needs, but they were not asked about detailed needs separately.  Also, the NSHAPC public-use client data cannot be analyzed by agency type (faith-based, secular non-profit, etc.).