A study conducted by The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth, Services Matter: How Housing & Services Can End Family Homelessness, finds that 85% of community service providers have seen family homelessness increase in their service area over the past 2 years; 93% of respondents stated that most homeless families need services and supports to move into and remain in stable housing; and only 14% stated that housing alone can end family homelessness.
The Bassuk Center conducted a national survey of community service providers who work with homeless families. Most of the 907 providers who completed the survey agree that to move into and remain in stable housing, homeless families need services in addition to housing. The survey findings include:
- 95% agree that services should start when families enter an emergency shelter and continue when they are permanently housed,
- 94% agree that assessments of each family member are needed,
- 91% agree that assessments should focus on child well-being,
- 97% agree that education, job training, and income supports are necessary, and
- 95% agree that case management to help families secure housing and benefits is necessary.
Providers responded that trauma and mental health conditions are prevalent among homeless families. Eighty-eight percent of community providers stated that trauma experienced by mothers is a common cause of homelessness; 80% report that many homeless mothers have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as children and have post-trauma responses as adults; and 93% agree that addressing the impact of trauma must be part of the solution to end homelessness. Ninety-one percent of community providers agree that mental health and substance use services should be available. Eighty percent of community providers thought that many homeless mothers have depression that requires treatment.
Providers also responded that homelessness can have harmful effects on children. Sixty-nine percent agree that homeless children are unable to keep up with their homework and fall behind in school and 70% report that many homeless children have behavioral problems. Ninety-seven percent of community providers agreed that parenting supports could improve outcomes for children.
The authors conclude that a comprehensive strategy to end family homelessness should provide permanent affordable housing in the community, support economic self-sufficiency, assess all family members, address trauma-related issues, treat depression in mothers, minimize family separations, provide parenting supports, and address children’s needs.
Services Matter: How Housing & Services Can End Family Homelessness is available at http://bit.ly/1kwChFW.