Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Housing-Related Problems

11/27/2001

Another area of material hardship for leavers is difficulty affording housing and utilities. Again, the surveys use a number of different questions to assess the extent to which leavers are experiencing housing-related problems. One measure, asked by seven of the studies, is whether the family has fallen behind on rent or housing costs (Table VI.3). In all but one of the study areas, between one-quarter and one-half of leaver families report having fallen behind on rent or housing costs. Georgia, the exception, reports that 18 percent of leaver families had this problem after exit.

Table VI.3:
Single- Parent Leavers' Experience of Material Hardship: Housing-Related Problems

Problem

AZ DC1 GA IL1 IA MA1 MO1 SC1,2 WA Cuy. Co. Bay Area

Behind on Rent/Housing Costs

37 27 18 38 25   26 3 33      

Forced to move because of

17 6   13       12   26  

housing costs

                     

Evicted

    4           7 7 4  

Without a place to live at least once

      1 5 7       13    

Used homeless shelter

3 3   3   2 6   2 1    

Did not have own place to live

          8          

Moved in with family/friends

  22   11   14     10    

Crowded house conditions

                    32 7

Behind on Utility Payments

  29 22         48      

Utilities turned off/Went without

12     14   26          

Heat

  5     8     9      

Electricity

  6 12 8   7     11 12 8 19 8  

Water

  3           7      

Phone disconnected

    19   35     35      

1Results are for all cases, not just single-parents.
2Results are for families that remain off of welfare at the time of the survey.
3Question asks if unable to pay rent, mortgage, or utilities.
4Figure represents having been evicted, stayed in emergency shelter, or been homeless.
5Lived in a car or on the streets.
6Only asked of respondents who had moved at least once since exit. Recaluation done so numbers represent the percentage of all leavers.
7Defined as the ratio of household members to rooms, excluding bathrooms, is greater than 2.
8Results include both gas and electricity.
Source: See Appendix Bfor a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Many studies also gathered information on more severe housing problems. These include having to move because of inability to pay housing costs or eviction; being without a place to live or having stayed in a homeless shelter; or moving in with family or friends, not having ones own place to live, or living in crowded housing conditions (2 or more household members per room). In general, a small but substantial percentage of families report these problems. 

The percentage of families that were forced to move because of housing costs ranges from 6 percent in DC to 26 percent in Cuyahoga county. The percentage of families evicted is generally smaller, 4 percent in Georgia, and 7 percent in Washington and Cuyahoga County. However, it is possible that some families move to avoid eviction. Of the six studies reporting use of a homeless shelter since exit, the percentages range from 1 to 3 percent. A larger percentage of families reported they were without a place to live at least once in Iowa and Washington 7 and 13 percent respectively. Finally, some families moved in with relatives or friends because of high housing costs. The reports range from 10 percent in Washington to 22 percent in DC. The Bay Area study reports that 32 percent of leaver families say they lived in crowded housing conditions. 

Utilities. In addition to problems with rent and places to stay, a number of families have had problems paying utilities or had utilities cut off because of failure to pay. The percentage of families who were behind on utilities after leaving welfare ranges from 22 percent in Georgia to 48 percent in South Carolina. A smaller percentage generally report they had utilities turned off. Some studies separately report having heat, electricity, water, and phone service turned off. The percentage of families that had heat, electricity or water utilities turned off ranges from a low of 3 to 6 percent in DC to a high of 26 percent in Massachusetts. For the three studies reporting that phone service of leavers was disconnected, the percentages are somewhat higher, from 19 percent in Georgia to 35 percent in Iowa and South Carolina. 

> Changes in Housing-Related Problems Since Exit. Six of the studies compare leavers pre- and post-exit experiences of housing and utility-related hardships (Table VI.4). The results are similar to those for food-related problems. Three of the studies, Arizona, DC, and Illinois, find similar or lower absolute percentages of families experiencing housing-related problems after exiting TANF than before. Massachusetts and Washington find that leavers experience somewhat higher rates of housing problems after exit than when on TANF. South Carolina reports somewhat of a mixed picture. Leavers in South Carolina have more trouble paying rent and utilities post-exit than when on TANF. However, fewer families in South Carolina were forced to move because of housing costs or used a homeless shelter post-exit than when on TANF. Overall, these results provide mixed evidence on whether leavers experience an increase or decrease in housing problems after exiting TANF.

Table VI.4:
Single Parent Leavers' Experience of Material Hardship: Housing- Related Problems Comparing Time Before and After Exiting TANF

Problem

AZ DC1 IL1 MA1 SC1,2 WA
Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Caseload Leavers

Behind on Rent/Housing Costs

41 37 27 27 45 38     25 33    

Forced to move because of housing costs

21 17 8 6 15 13     19 12    

Evicted

                    3 7

Without a place to live at least once

        2 3 1 3         11 13

Used homeless shelter

4 3 5 3 4 3 2 4 2 4 3 2 2 1

Did not have own place to live

            3 8        

Moved in with family/friends

        14 11         7 10

Behind on Utility Payments

    29 29         26 48    

Utilities turned off/Went without

18 12     27 14 20 26        

Heat

    7 5         6 9    

Electricity

    7 6         9 12 12 12

Water

    2 3         5 7    

Phone disconnected

                23 35    

1Results are for all cases, not just single-parents.
2Results are for families that remain off of welfare at the time of the survey
3Lived in a car or on the streets.
4Only asked of respondents who had moved at least once since exit. Numbers reflect percentage of all leavers.
Source: SeeAppendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.