Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Common Measures Used, Pros and Cons


Most surveys asked for the respondents current living arrangement  for instance, whether he or she owned or rented a home or apartment, lived rent-free with friends or family, lived in a shelter, or was homeless and living on the street. For those who rented, some surveys asked a follow-up question: Was the respondent living in public housing or receiving vouchers for housing? The Alameda and Illinois surveys asked for the number of bedrooms in the house or apartment (an indicator of family crowding and stress). The Illinois survey also asked for the amount of rent or mortgage payment that the respondent was responsible for in the prior month.

The NSAF asked the longest series of questions about housing. They included whether the respondent lived in public housing or received housing vouchers, whether the home was owned, rented, or occupied without cash payment, how long the respondent lived in the home, the number of bedrooms in the home, the respondents portion of the monthly rent or mortgage, and the total households monthly rent or mortgage.

Three surveys included questions on family mobility. The Missouri survey asked three questions: (1) the number of times the respondent moved during the past 12 months, (2) the date of the most recent move, and (3) the primary reason for the move. The Alameda survey asked a longer battery of questions. These included how many times the respondent moved during the past 12 months, the other types of housing he or she lived in during the past 12 months, how long he or she lived in each type of place, whether the respondent could stay in the current housing for the next 30 days without being asked to leave, and whether the current housing situation interfered with work or training. The Iowa Child Impact Survey asked for the number of moves over the past 12 months.

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