Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Caveats and Qualifications


Several important qualifications need to be kept in mind when reviewing all of these findings. One issue is the relatively small number of households in this poverty sample that were ever homeless during the period examined (less than 100). The small number of cases limits how much can be said even descriptively about these families. In addition, little information was obtained on the homeless experience. Thus, the group could include families who spent one night in shelter to those who spent many nights and had multiple episodes of homelessness.

For the logistic regression models, the relatively poor fit of most of the models (with Nagelkerke R2 scores typically only around .2) should serve as a reminder to treat these findings with some caution. Although it is plausible that the low fit for the various homeless models could be attributed to the small number of cases in the condition or to the heterogeneous nature of the outcome variable, the fact that low model fits were found with the stably housed models where the numbers were greater and the definition of stable more solid makes this explanation less likely. It is more likely that the poor fit of these models is due to the reliance on individual-level variables and the absence of any contextual variables.

These issues notwithstanding, though, the reanalysis of the Fragile Families database has still provided an opportunity to address some of our knowledge gaps with respect to homeless families, guide our conceptualization of a typology, and inform designs for future research.

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