Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Creating and Describing Residential Outcome Groups

10/01/2007

Detailed residential information was collected on participants in the Fragile Families study at the Year 1 and Year 3 followup surveys. This residential information found in each survey included:

  • # — Moves: Number of moves since birth of child/last interview;
  • Residential Risk Indicators: Indicators of residential risk in past 12 months (i.e., had not paid full amount of rent or mortgage; had been evicted from home or apartment; had not paid full amount of a gas, oil, or electric bill; had phone service disconnected because payments were not made; had to borrow money from friends or family to help pay bills);
  • Doubled-Up: Whether the family was currently living with family or friends and paying no rent, or had moved in with other people even for a little while due to financial problems in last 12 months; and
  • Homeless: Whether the family was currently living on the street, in temporary housing or a group home, or spent at least one night in a shelter, abandoned building, automobile, or other place not meant for regular housing in the past 12 months.

For descriptive analyses, each mother was categorized into one of four residential groups at Year 1 and Year 3 based on the pattern of responses to these residential indicators (# moves, residential risk indicators, doubled-up, homeless).

As Table 5-1 shows, residentially stable households in Year 1 and Year 3 were defined as having less than two moves, no residential risks, and had not been doubled-up or homeless during the prior 12 months. At-Risk households reported two or more moves and/or one or more residential risks, and also had not been doubled-up or homeless in the last 12 months. Doubled-up households were ones that were currently or recently doubled-up and had not been homeless, regardless of the number of moves or residential risks they reported in the past 12 months. Homeless households were ones that reported currently living on the street, in temporary housing or group home, or had spent at least one night in the past 12 months in a shelter, abandoned building, automobile or other place not meant for regular housing.

Data Collection Timeframe Residentially Stable Residentially At-Risk Doubled-Up Homeless
Table 5-1. Defining Residential Groups
Year 1 (n=838) 35% 39% 21% 6%
Year 3 (n=754) 42% 37% 16% 5%
Year 1 or Year 3 Criteria < 2 moves yearly 2+ moves yearly OR N/A N/A
No risk Indicators 1+ risk indicators N/A N/A
Not doubled-up Not doubled-up Current/recently doubled-up N/A
Not homeless Not homeless Not homeless Current/recently homeless
Combined Criteria* 22%
  • Residentially stable Year 1 AND Year 3
41%
  • At-risk Year 1 OR Year 3
  • Never doubled-up or homeless
28%
  • Doubled-up Year 1 OR Year 3
  • Never homeless
8%
  • Homeless Year 1 OR Year 3
* Combined Year 1 and Year 3 (n= 838)

In addition to categorizing households into one of these four residential groups at Year 1 and Year 3, a combined residential group was also created based on the most severe residential category experienced in the two waves. A family who was residentially stable during Year 1 but doubled-up at Year 3, for example, would be classified as doubled-up. In order to be considered residentially stable, a family would need to meet the stable criteria for both Year 1 and Year 3. Conversely, to be put into the homeless group a family only had to report being homeless in Year 1 or Year 3.

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