Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Directing Future Research


As noted, several suggestions on how the Fragile Families data set could be used for future research include looking more closely at geographic differences, as well as taking advantage of the next wave of surveys. More broadly, this reanalysis has shown the utility of looking at a broader range of families that may be at risk of becoming homeless. While the factors associated with being residentially stable somewhat mirror the factors related to who becomes homeless, there are also important differences that can be seen only when it is possible to examine each group separately.

Additional new research may benefit from exploring more clearly the role that other family members (e.g., partner, other adults) play in fostering stability, as well as how the various health/mental health/substance use/domestic violence issues increase one's vulnerability. Do these issues make it difficult for a mother to work and thus rise out of poverty? Do they make her more vulnerable to being evicted or being thrown out of other relatives' homes? Do they make it difficult for other adults to remain living with them? Understanding the role these factors play may help in developing interventions that can prevent homelessness, especially among those who may have had and lost subsidies.

Although our analyses did not focus squarely on those living at risk or doubled-up, it is clear that these groups experience a number of stresses and their share of health, mental health, and related issues. Understanding their vulnerability and interventions that can help them rise to greater stability would be important to decreasing the daily challenges these families experience.

Lastly, studies should investigate how context interplays with individual-level factors and determine what community factors can play a role in fostering greater stability and decreasing the risk of homelessness.

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