A new report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Enterprise Community Partners shows that access to affordable housing is the key to preventing and ending homelessness for most families and that housing subsidies are generally all that is needed to ensure housing stability.
The two organizations conducted an extensive review of existing research on homeless families and found that those that were able to secure subsidized housing were far less likely to report an additional episode of homelessness than those families that did not secure housing subsidies. In New York City, only 7.6% of families that received subsidies after leaving the shelter system returned in the next two years, compared to 44.3% of families who went to “unknown arrangements.”
Another study reviewed for this report shows that families who received a subsidy are also very likely to attain housing stability (defined as being in one’s own apartment for one year without moving). Ninety-seven percent of families in New York City who received a subsidy were in their own apartment five years later and 80% had been there for at least one year without moving. This is in stark contrast to the families who did not receive any form of subsidy. Only 38% of these families were in their own apartments and only 18% had been there for one year without a move.
The report also looks at research on the ability of housing subsidies to prevent homelessness. The authors examined the recently completed Family Voucher Study, which randomly assigned poor families into groups that received housing subsidies and those that did not. Five years into this study, 12.5% of the families who did not receive vouchers had been homeless during the previous year, while only 3.3% of those using a voucher faced the same fate.
Some other findings of the report are that homeless families are much more similar to other poor families than to single homeless adults, including on characteristics relating to education levels, incarceration rates, and treatment for mental illness. For most homeless families, a housing subsidy, without intensive services or case management, is enough for them to achieve housing stability.
The full report, “Ending Homelessness for Families: The Evidence for Affordable Housing,” is available at: www.endhomelessness.org/content/general/detail/2436.