Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies of Homeless Families

10/01/2007

While homeless families have been a topic of concern prior to 1980, studies of homeless families started only in the 1980s.  Early studies of homeless families are reviewed by McChesney (1995). More recent studies of homeless families have revealed several risk factors and protective factors (Bassuk et al., 1997; Rog et al., 1995).  Wong et al., (1997), using Culhane’s methodology, have investigated predictors of exit and re-entry among family shelter users in New York City.  Families with housing vouchers had fewer re-admissions to shelters, and those with more children, minority status, pregnancy, and public assistance had more re-admissions.  Bassuk et al., (2001) compared multiply homeless women with first-time homeless.  A history of childhood abuse and adult partner violence were predictors of recurrence of homelessness.  Qualitative studies have yielded more evidence on which to build typologies of homeless families. Based on ethnographic studies in Los Angeles, McChesney (1992b) described four types of homeless families: unemployed couples; mothers leaving relationships; mothers receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and mothers who had been homeless teens (the latter includes a subtype of mothers who have never had a home in their entire life).

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