Families - Policy

On any given night, almost 85,000 families are homeless. Rapid re-housing and prevention policies can end family homelessness.

For many communities, the effort to reduce homelessness among families is becoming more and more difficult in the face of the current economic downturn, as they see increased demand in the face of reduced resources. However, many communities had made progress in reducing family homelessness prior to the recession and are continuing to implement those proven strategies most effective at ending family homelessness.

Fortunately, the vast majority of families are in shelter for a relatively brief period of time and do not become homeless again. As a result, preventing family homelessness from occurring in the first place and then rapidly re-housing those families that do become homeless has been shown to be extremely effective. Some families, though, experience multiple homeless episodes and may require more intensive, sustained support to ensure that they do not become homeless again.

Ending families’ vulnerability to homelessness requires a comprehensive policy that attends to housing affordability for very poor families and to their income and work support needs. That policy agenda includes:

  • Increase affordable housing;
  • Provide appropriate income and work supports for low-income families;
  • Provide survivors of domestic violence the necessary tools to preserve and regain housing;
  • Preserve at-risk families;
  • Provide states with resources to meet the housing needs of child welfare-involved families; and
  • Promote healthy families and child development.


Library Resources

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.
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.
Federal Policy Brief | January 18, 2012
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a final regulation to implement changes to the definition of homelessness contained in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. The new definition is outlined here.
Fact Sheets | November 4, 2010
This resource describes the "point-in-time counts" - the regular count of people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to submit these counts as part of their application for federal homeless assistance funds.
Federal Policy Brief | December 5, 2009
TANF reauthorization is an ideal opportunity to make TANF an effective tool that more communities can use to end family homelessness. This paper outlines the Alliance's policy priorities for TANF reauthorization.
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.