Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Rationale

10/01/2007

Much of the past research involving homeless families has focused on the pathways into homelessness and the characteristics of families who become homeless in comparison to poor families in general. There has not been comparable attention paid to understanding how families exit homelessness and their subsequent residential patterns. During an overall period of lean fiscal times and reduced Section 8 certificates and other forms of public housing, other factors need to be identified that both facilitate families leaving homelessness and block successful exits. Information on both factors should inform intervention efforts, as well as efforts in targeting the limited housing resources to families least able to exit homelessness on their own. Likewise, there is a need to more clearly understand factors that both protect families from, and increase risk for, future homelessness episodes.

Few studies have had a longitudinal perspective that could provide insight into the trajectories families take out of homelessness. Little is known about the types of assistance that families receive and whether they take full advantage of services or benefits for which they may be eligible in order to exit. Research has not been conducted on the extent to which having bad credit, a criminal record, multiple children, and other factors hinder a family's ability to exit a homeless situation, nor has sufficient research been conducted on the factors that influence repeat homelessness among families.

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