As noted in Chapter 2, existing studies, including the NLS and ACS, do not provide enough information to identify families that are currently or have recently been homeless. The major enhancements that these surveys need include adding questions and/or adding response categories that make it possible to identify homeless families.
American Community Survey. Enhancements of the ACS would focus on the housing section of the survey. These enhancements would include questions to determine whether household members are currently living in some sort of emergency or transitional housing, and whether they have been homeless or at risk of being homeless in the past 12 months. Also proposed is a question on whether anyone in the household has a housing subsidy. Table 6-4 shows in which sections of the survey instrument those enhancements could be made.
|Table 6-4. Possible enhancements to the American Community Survey|
|Current Living Situation:||Possibly add after Question 1 in the Housing section:
|Recent Homelessness or Risk of Homelessness:*||Possibly add at the end of the Housing section: In the past 12 months:
|Housing Subsidy:||Possibly add to Question 15 in the Housing section, which currently asks about food stamps:
|* These are modified versions of questions asked in the Fragile Family Study.|
National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1997. The NLSY97 already collects housing and mobility information. In fact, the NLSY97 uses a set of responses to describe the respondent's current living situation that already includes "Shelter (for homeless or abused) or on street…" It then follows up with a question concerning how long the person has been living in this place. The NLS97 also includes a number of questions about various risk and protective factors. Many of these questions, including such topics as illegal drug use, criminal behavior, and arrests, are asked as part of an ACASI section.
What is not collected in the NLS97 survey is whether the respondent was homeless at some point between the current and previous interviews for those who moved, and whether the respondent was ever at risk of being homeless. Finally, depending on the length of time it takes to add any of these questions into the NLS, it may also be necessary to include homeless history questions at least once. Table 6-5 shows possible enhancements in the NLSY97.
|Table 6-5. Possible enhancements to the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1997|
|Recent Homelessness or Risk of Homelessness.*||Possibly add in the Household Information section: In the past 12 months:
|History of Homelessness:||It may be possible to determine whether current respondents were ever homeless and to link that information to NLS data that have already been collected.
Was there any time during your lifetime in which you:
If yes to any of the above:
|* These are modified versions of questions asked in the Fragile Families Study.|