The 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients: A Comparison of Faith-Based and Secular Non-Profit Programs. Primary Client Needs, Availability of Services, and Location of Services

03/19/2002

The above analysis provides a broad sketch of homeless client needs for a wide range of services.  The remainder of this section examines a few of these needs in more detail, namely the twelve service needs that have been identified by over half of all program administrators as being needed by all or most clients (see Table 8).  In addition to level of need, we examine how often the needs are being met and where (on-site by the same program, on-site by another program, or off-site somewhere else in the community).

 

Table 8:
Major Needs, Availability of Services, and Location of Services
  % of programs reporting how many clients experience a specific need % of programs reporting how often clients' needs are being met % of programs reporting where services are available
Major Need Program All Most Some None Missing/ Don’t Know Mean Always Usually Sometimes Seldom Missing/ Don’t Know Mean on-site off-site not available
Food Faith-Based Non-profit 49.0 26.1 17.4 3.6 3.8 3.17 54.3 27.0 8.9 1.4 8.5 3.17 85.2 37.3 0.1
Secular Non-profit 39.3 29.0 21.0 6.9 3.9 2.97 53.1 23.6 10.0 1.8 11.4 3.05 75.4 44.0 0.0
Clothing Faith-Based Non-profit 13.1 38.0 34.3 6.8 7.8 2.49 33.5 32.0 14.5 4.1 15.8 2.63 67.8 41.4 0.4
Secular Non-profit 9.6 27.4 49.9 6.3 6.8 2.33 26.6 33.7 22.5 2.5 14.8 2.55 61.0 54.2 0.0
Money mgmt Faith-Based Non-profit 23.2 31.9 15.6 8.8 20.5 2.49 13.6 15.3 18.0 22.9 30.2 1.59 29.8 40.6 10.5
Secular Non-profit 23.2 30.7 22.8 5.6 17.8 2.54 20.2 22.6 20.7 12.9 23.6 2.03 52.8 39.4 7.2
Conflict resolution Faith-Based Non-profit 13.6 28.0 29.1 6.5 22.8 2.26 11.6 19.9 23.8 12.2 32.4 1.66 36.8 43.9 4.7
Secular Non-profit 20.1 31.0 22.8 5.3 20.8 2.45 23.8 25.0 18.0 6.1 27.1 2.12 51.9 46.0 2.6
Needs assmt Faith-Based Non-profit 30.4 28.0 17.8 8.1 15.8 2.65 20.4 18.8 23.6 10.8 26.4 1.96 40.6 52.2 2.7
Secular Non-profit 50.6 26.6 12.7 4.1 6.0 3.18 45.9 24.9 12.4 5.9 10.8 2.89 74.0 39.4 2.0
Ind. Goals Faith-Based Non-profit 26.0 28.3 17.0 9.6 19.2 2.52 16.1 16.7 21.0 14.1 32.1 1.70 33.3 47.5 5.4
Secular Non-profit 47.8 27.7 11.5 5.0 8.1 3.10 41.6 21.0 15.1 8.9 13.4 2.68 69.5 34.1 5.3
Referral Faith-Based Non-profit 12.5 27.3 32.8 6.3 21.1 2.25 15.0 26.1 22.4 7.5 29.2 1.90 40.3 50.5 1.7
Secular Non-profit 26.1 36.7 25.4 5.0 6.9 2.77 38.6 31.5 14.2 2.2 13.4 2.80 72.1 48.1 0.4
Follow-up Faith-Based Non-profit 13.2 22.1 28.3 15.1 21.2 2.12 6.9 14.2 22.4 19.1 37.4 1.34 34.1 34.5 8.8
Secular Non-profit 24.1 26.2 29.1 11.5 9.1 2.54 22.3 23.1 22.9 9.8 21.9 2.14 60.4 33.4 4.2
Locate housing Faith-Based Non-profit 20.3 29.0 30.5 6.8 13.5 2.49 9.9 22.5 32.4 13.0 22.2 1.85 38.9 60.0 4.5
Secular Non-profit 31.4 33.0 25.1 5.5 5.1 2.85 18.2 31.2 31.4 8.4 10.9 2.37 64.5 57.8 3.3
Financial assistance Faith-Based Non-profit 10.2 31.9 33.9 8.4 15.7 2.28 5.4 21.1 32.4 14.8 26.3 1.64 37.2 59.2 3.5
Secular Non-profit 23.9 33.7 27.8 8.5 6.0 2.67 13.2 29.6 30.3 11.0 16.0 2.13 45.9 60.8 3.3
Job skills assmt Faith-Based Non-profit 10.3 32.1 29.1 9.3 19.2 2.24 7.0 14.6 30.9 17.8 29.8 1.51 19.7 58.5 5.7
Secular Non-profit 14.6 35.2 32.9 10.0 7.4 2.47 13.2 26.5 30.2 12.1 18.1 2.05 33.5 64.7 2.6
Health assmt Faith-Based Non-profit 12.2 23.0 35.4 9.1 20.4 2.18 9.5 16.5 30.9 11.8 31.3 1.61 18.2 57.8 3.8
Secular Non-profit 23.3 27.6 28.8 9.7 10.7 2.54 20.7 22.9 23.6 12.0 20.9 2.11 28.8 61.1 4.8

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


Administrators of faith-based programs do not know the service needs of many of their clients.

Looking at all twelve service needs, it should first be noted that program administrators do not always know about the needs of their clients.  Responses in the “missing/don’t know” category range from about 4 percent for basic needs such as food and clothing to more than 20 percent for needs like “conflict resolution” and “referral” among clients of faith-based agencies.  Note also that faith-based administrators are much more likely than secular non-profit administrators to report not knowing about specific service needs of their clients.

Only for food and clothing, are faith-based programs meeting needs more often than secular non-profit programs.

Once again, secular non-profits generally report higher levels of need for most services than do faith-based non-profits.  The findings on how often client needs are met mirror those for service needs:  only when it comes to food and clothing are faith-based programs meeting needs more often than secular non-profit programs.  For most other services, secular non-profits usually or always meet client needs much more often than do faith-based programs.  Again, it is important to keep in mind that large shares of faith-based administrators simply do not know if client needs are being met.

In general, these results suggest that the administrators of secular programs are more likely to know about their clients, their clients are more likely to have high levels of need for most services, and their clients are more likely to have these needs met.  With the exceptions of food and clothing, services are available on-site more frequently through secular non-profit programs rather than through faith-based programs.  About 85 percent and 68 percent of faith-based programs report that food and clothing, respectively, are available on-site, compared to 75 percent and 61 percent of secular non-profits.  No other service, however, is offered on-site by more than 40 percent of faith-based programs.  Secular programs, by contrast, seem to offer a wide variety of services on-site.  For example, the share of secular versus faith-based non-profits offering various services is as follows:  needs assessments (74 versus 41 percent), referrals (72 versus 40 percent), and help with locating housing (65 versus 39 percent).  For off-site services, similar shares of each type of program report specific services being available, with few significant differences.

Unlike secular non-profits, faith-based agencies are more likely to provide basic services such as food and clothing, and less likely to provide other types of services.  Faith-based programs are less likely to report a high level of need for all other services, are less likely to meet most clients’ needs, and are less likely to offer these services on-site.  However, the vast majority of faith-based programs report high levels of need for food and clothing, most programs are consistently able to meet these two needs, and most also offer services to meet these needs on-site.

Clients of central city programs have greater needs than those of suburban and rural programs.

The same patterns of client needs, needs being met, and availability of services are present when programs are broken down by urban-rural status and by region of the country.  Generally, administrators of central city programs report higher levels of client need and those of suburban and rural programs report slightly lower levels of need.  Needs are being met at about the same rates for most services, although a few individual services, such as financial assistance, seem to be emphasized in rural areas more so than in central cities.  Looking at regions of the country, there is quite a bit of variation in administrators’ perceptions of client needs and availability of services, but there is no discernible pattern to these differences.  Among programs in the northeast, client needs are slightly lower than the national figures, and faith-based administrators report that these needs are met less often than is the case for all programs nationally, while secular non-profits report that needs are met slightly more often.  Also, both faith-based and secular programs in the northeast are less likely to offer basic services such as food, clothing, and financial assistance on-site, but are more likely to offer other specific services such as conflict resolution, individual goals, and health assessments. 

Programs in the south seem to meet client needs slightly more often than nationally, and they also offer basic services (food, clothing, financial assistance) on-site more frequently.  In the mid-west, there are no discernible differences, except that programs also tend to offer services on-site more frequently than the national figures.  Finally, programs in the west tend to emphasize different client needs and are able to meet different needs as well, although there is no pattern as to which needs are more prevalent and which are being met more frequently.  Programs in the west also tend to offer services on-site less frequently than nationally.