Family Homelessness in Our Nation and Community: A Problem with a Solution
This report discusses the state of family homelessness in the US. It looks at the root causes and develops a detailed understanding of the experience of family homelessness. With this information the report concludes with recommendations for ending family homelessness in the US.
Tonight, 100,000 families will be homeless in our nation. We will not see these families standing on street corners or huddled on park benches. They are hidden from us – living in their cars, in campgrounds, in shelters, or, if they are lucky, in motels or short term apartments. The fact that they are unseen should not lead us to believe that the problem of homelessness among families is somehow less critical or severe than it is for the single adults whom we do see on the streets. Homelessness among families is tremendously destructive and exacts enormous human, social and economic costs. Parents and children alike suffer negative mental and physical health consequences. Families can be torn asunder, with fathers living on the streets, mothers in shelters, and children in foster care or with relatives. And, accompanied as it is by increased utilization of public resources such as shelter, hospitals, child welfare services, and mental health treatment, allowing families to become homeless exacts a substantial public cost.
Family homelessness is a complicated, systemic, and widespread problem. But it is a problem with solutions. As we will see, it is driven largely by the inability of very low-income families to afford housing. Providing such families with housing not only ends their homelessness, it also greatly improves their chances of success in employment, education and health. In order to understand how we might best approach family homelessness and its solutions, we must understand the nature of family homelessness, what families’ experience of homelessness is, and what interventions have been successful in ending their homelessness. This paper examines these issues nationally, with some specific reference to the problem in the District of Columbia metropolitan region. (Authors)
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