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:
The advantages of a national longitudinal study of homeless families include the ability to:
Primary Data Collection. Interviews with the heads of household would be conducted within two weeks of the shelter request; at the time of exit or six months into shelter; and at six- or 12-month intervals subsequent to exit for a period of two to five years.
Sample. The basic sample would be a random sample of families requesting shelter for the first time. Depending on resources, the sample could include oversamples of families who come from two-parent families, father-only families, and families who are working to allow greater attention to these understudied groups.
Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Typologies and Knowledge Gaps it Could Inform
Data collected through a national longitudinal study of homeless families would help with resource allocation; understanding the needs of the population enables resource matching. Basic study design could provide data on the following:
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 over
The Longitudinal Study of Homeless Families is a proposed national longitudinal study of exit patterns and shelter requests of homeless families using primary data. The major research questions could include the following: