The existing body of literature related to homeless families provides substantial information on the characteristics and service needs of currently homeless mothers and their dependent children but is not robust enough to provide sufficient data with which to develop a typology of homeless families. In order to fill this knowledge gap, this project has employed a step-wise approach to seeking opportunities to collect additional information about homeless families and families at risk of homelessness that could be used in the development of a typology. The first step in the process identified existing major national and multijurisdictional surveys that might yield information through secondary data analysis. A closer analysis of data collected through the Fragile Families study further illuminated additional findings about homeless families and families at risk of homelessness. However, the data were still insufficient to fully inform a typology.
A second step included reviewing ongoing and planned surveys and developing a short battery of housing questions that could be considered for use in future surveys of low-income populations. The third and final step in the process is to identify and develop three separate approaches that Health and Human Services could consider for a future specialized data collection to fill key data gaps with respect to homeless families.