Families

About 220,000 people in families are homeless. Rapid re-housing and prevention are two strategies to avert and end their homelessness.

Families experiencing homelessness are similar to other, housed families living in poverty. In fact, many poor families – homeless or not – share similar characteristics: they are usually headed by a single woman with limited education, are usually young, and have high rates of domestic violence and mental illness.

Some families living in poverty, however, fall into homelessness, usually due to some unforeseen financial challenge, such as a death in the family, a lost job, or an unexpected bill, creating a situation where the family cannot maintain housing.

According to Part 1 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, 222,197 people in families were homeless on a single night in 2013, making up 36 percent of all homeless people counted. That estimate represents a 7 percent decline compared to HUD's 2012 estimate and an 11 decline compared to its 2007 estimate.

Fortunately, homelessness among families is typically not a long-term experience. About 75 percent of families who enter shelter are able to quickly exit with little or no assistance and never return. Some families, however, require more intensive assistance.

One of the most important strategies for lifting families from homelessness is rapid re-housing. The more quickly families are connected with permanent housing, the more quickly their homelessness can be solved and their lives can return to relative stability. Similarly, prevention strategies – in the form of cash assistance, housing subsidies, and other services – can avert homelessness before it starts.

Many communities are taking steps to improve their response to family homelessness. The success of communities such as Alameda County, CA, which experienced a 37 percent decline in family homelessness, offers a glimpse of what can be accomplished nationally with the necessary commitment of political will and resources.

Spotlight

Library Resources

Icon
Report | December 11, 2012
Prepared by the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, this paper provides information on national trends that are suggesting significant changes in the country’s approach to ending family homelessness and guidance for responding to these changes by creating well-designed local systems.
Icon
Interactive Tool | May 24, 2012
The goal of this map is to display the progress rapid re-housing programs are making across the country and to encourage local communities to share the results with key stakeholders, decision makers, and policymakers so they can understand the tremendous impact these programs have had and can continue to have with sufficient resources.
Icon
Webinar | December 14, 2010
The Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Coordinating Center sponsored a webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. ET on Critical Time Intervention (CTI) for young mothers. Dr. Judy Samuels will present on the CTI model that focuses on providing rapid re-housing assistance to young families while offering intensive, time-limited supportive services. One of the features of the model is the provision of clinical supervision to frontline providers which enriches the services offered to promote stronger family outcomes.
Icon
Report | May 18, 2010
\In the first of our Economy Bytes series, the Alliance presents the state of doubled-up families. The brief examines the implications of the increase in doubled-up families and reflects on the how the situation speaks to the recession’s impact of homelessness.
Icon
Solutions Brief | July 13, 2009
This joint paper by the Alliance and Enterprise Community Partners demonstrates the importance of affordable housing in ending homelessness for families.
Icon
Video | February 20, 2008
Keys: Ending Family HomelessnessThis video highlights how communities across the country are decreasing homelessness among families. Thanks to the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it’s yours to use for free.
Icon
Solutions Brief | January 29, 2008
Housing vouchers are successful in helping families exit homelessness and can protect poor families from becoming homeless. This paper summarizes those research findings and draws out their implications for housing policymakers.