In summary, this project has identified a staged approach to developing typologies of homeless families and families who are at risk of homelessness. Data from existing sources provide some indication of the types of variables to be examined in order to develop classifications, but the variability among the studies in sample selection, measurement
Definition and Guidance from Past Research. A second typology, focused on families who have already become homeless, would classify families by the factors that block their ability to exit homelessness (e.g., poor credit; past justice involvement), as well as challenges they may have to maintain stability and self-sufficiency. Some families exit
Definition and Guidance from Past Research. A prevention-oriented typology would provide the ability to rank families according to levels of risk for homelessness and probability of a quick exit. Such a typology would allow for distinguishing families in desperate need from those with more moderate needs.
Consensus from the Expert Panel is that the two top goals for a typology should be a focus on prevention and resource allocation - how to match the resources that exist with the needs of the families who are homeless. Given that the factors that predict becoming homeless are likely to differ from those that predict exiting homelessness, it may
The purpose of this project has been to conduct a number of activities designed to inform the development of a typology of homeless families. These activities included the following:
12 This is relevant if the study involves a cohort of multiply homeless families in addition to first-time homeless. 13 This can be investigated only if the study is national with sufficient local samples or a set of local studies. 14 This is relevant only if the study includes a comparable sample of poor families who are at risk of home
The advantage to this option is the ability to examine the effectiveness of typologies in place. Limitations to this proposed approach include: Not likely to allow for a controlled study and What is in place may not concur with guidance from other research.
Administrative Data. Ideally, administrative data could be accessed through the HMIS system that would provide information on the family background and demographics, service needs, past and ongoing service use, family composition and stability, and family residential arrangements.
Basic Study Design. The basic study design would be an evaluation of one or more existing best practices at the county or state level where homeless service providers are using an empirical approach to determine need for preventive services. The goal would be to determine how effectively and appropriately the system matches services to needs.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies and Knowledge Gaps It Could Inform
A basic study of a prevention practice would provide information on the following: Prevention — identify risk factors for homelessness; Treatment matching — understand the services and housing needed by particular families to exit homelessness; Families at risk for homelessness or the identification of families before they become home
One goal for a typology of homeless families would be to identify families' risks for homelessness and barriers to housing in order to address the issues prior to entering shelter so that the incidence of homelessness among families could be reduced. In particular, a prevention-oriented typology would provide the ability to rank families according
This option tests promising practices to use a typology to prevent homelessness and/or expedite exit from homelessness. The following questions can be investigated: Does a triaged approach to shelter result in long-term prevention of imminent homelessness for families? What are the characteristics of families for whom the prevention approach
There are a number of advantages to this option: Data collection systems are in place in most CoCs in the country; There is the ability to maximize the existing HMIS data for study purposes; and The cost and burden are relatively low since CoCs are already required to collect this information. There are also limitations to this option.
Homeless Management Information System. One advantage of using an administrative database such as the HMIS is that information is being collected on an ongoing basis. Therefore, instead of collecting data through repeated waves of interviews, as is typically done in a survey effort, HMIS data can be collapsed into any time frame desired, such as
Sample. As already noted, by a congressional mandate, HUD is requiring local communities to develop a computerized data collection system. Since 2001, HUD has been working with local jurisdictions to develop and implement the HMIS. Individual CoCs will soon be required to submit information to HUD electronically based on Federal HMIS guidelines
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies and Knowledge Gaps the HMIS Could Inform
Using the HMIS universal data elements would help with resource allocation, as these would identify the size and composition of the population to enable resource matching. Using the program-specific HMIS data elements would help provide data on the following:
In 2001, Congress directed HUD to provide more detailed information on the extent and nature of homelessness and on the effectiveness of programs funded by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. As a result of this mandate, HUD is requiring each local CoC to develop its own HMIS, a computerized data collection system on homeless individuals a
The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is a longitudinal, cross-regional study of families using homeless shelters. Using the HMIS universal data elements, the following questions can be investigated: