Ending Homelessness for Families: The Evidence for Affordable Housing

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National Alliance to End Homelessness & Enterprise Community Partners

Solutions Brief | July 13, 2009

Files: PDF | 166 KB | 10 pages

The continuing crisis in affordable housing has led to a situation in which all too many poor families have become homeless. Many of these parents came of age when housing costs were high, and they were never able to break into the housing market. Others have lost housing and cannot find a new home that they can afford. For the vast majority of families, affordable housing, typically secured with a voucher or other subsidy, is sufficient to assure housing stability.

This paper reviews research showing that homeless families are far more similar to other poor families than to homeless adults without families, but they do not have the resources to secure housing. It examines patterns of shelter use and returns to stable housing and shows that housing that families can afford is sufficient to end homelessness – or to prevent it – for most families. Extensive research demonstrates that housing subsidies solve homelessness for the majority of families. In some jurisdictions, programs have succeeded in re-housing families even without ongoing subsidies. Supportive housing is only needed to help a small proportion of families with greater needs. Although most families do not need supportive housing and can attain stable housing with subsidies alone, they often have other needs that make them a good match for affordable housing with less intensive resident services.

Topics in this report include:

  • What We Know From Research on Homeless Families
  • The Role of Housing Subsidies in Housing Stability
  • The Role of Services in Housing Stability and Family Well-Being