Family homelessness

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Family homelessness is the phenomenon of whole family units experiencing homelessness. In some Western countries, such as the United States, family homelessness is a new form of poverty, and a fast growing group of the homelessness population.[1][2] Some American researchers argue that family homelessness is the inevitable result of imbalanced “low-income housing ratio” where there are more low-income households than there are low-cost housing units.[3] A study in 2018[specify] projected a total of 56,342 family households were recognized as homeless. Roughly 16,390 of these people were living in a place not meant for human habitation.[4] It is believed[by whom?] that homeless families make up about a third of the United States’ population, with generally women being the lead of the household.[5]

While scholars differ on conceptualizations of homelessness, whether it is a just temporary state through which people pass or if it is a permanent trait that emanates from individual characteristics, studies indicate for families, homelessness is a temporary state that is often resolved by the provision of subsidized housing.[6] It has been studied that most homeless families stay in homeless shelters for only a short time, and when they exit they typically do not return. About 20 percent have longer stays in shelters, but only a small number of families have repeat stays.[7]

Factors Involved[edit]

The lack of affordability for housing poses as a challenge for poor people and their ability to maintain housing. Rising costs in housing is one of the many factors in homelessness.[8] An estimated amount of 22% to 57% of all homeless women who report domestic violence note that it was the immediate cause of their homelessness.[9] Addiction plays another large role in homelessness for families. Addiction disturbs functioning families and uproots those living productively. Seeking out substances becomes priority over bill paying, which results in loss of housing, such as eviction.[10] Families without homes contribute to the large amount of children in foster care.[11] Child victims of homeless families are shown to suffer more with developmental difficulties such as communication and are predisposed to other mental disorders compared to other families who have low income, yet remained housed.[12] Homeless children pose serious problems when it comes to their success and their future. Such problems include hunger, poor nutrition, developmental delays, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and educational underachievement.[13] Social isolation is thought to be more a consequence than a cause of family homelessness.[14]


Some American researchers argue that social programs, such as rental subsidies, that either reduce poverty or increase the supply of affordable housing will be effective in lowering the total number of homeless families.[3] In the United States Section 8 certificates are used to help provide housing, as the household pays about 30% of its income toward rent, and the federal government funds the other 70%. Emergency shelter grants provides for basic shelter and essential supportive services. It also can be used for short-term homeless prevention assistance to persons at imminent risk of losing their own housing due to eviction, foreclosure, or utility shutoffs.[15]


  1. ^ Nunez, Ralph, and Cybelle Fox. "A snapshot of family homelessness across America." Political Science Quarterly 114, no. 2 (1999): 289-307.
  2. ^ "The Facts About Family Homelessness | Doorways". Doorways for Women and Families. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  3. ^ a b McChesney, Kay Young. "Family homelessness: A systemic problem." Journal of Social Issues 46, no. 4 (1990): 191-205.
  4. ^ "Children and Families". National Alliance to End Homelessness. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  5. ^ Bassuk, Ellen L., and Lynn Rosenberg. "Why does family homelessness occur? A case-control study." American Journal of Public Health 78, no. 7 (1988): 783-788.
  6. ^ Shinn, Marybeth. "Family homelessness: State or trait?." American journal of community psychology 25, no. 6 (1997): 755-769.
  7. ^ Culhane, Dennis P., Stephen Metraux, Jung Min Park, Maryanne Schretzman, and Jesse Valente. "Testing a typology of family homelessness based on patterns of public shelter utilization in four US jurisdictions: Implications for policy and program planning." Housing Policy Debate 18, no. 1 (2007): 1-28.
  8. ^ Shinn, Mary Beth; Rog, Debra; Culhane, Dennis (2005-05-01). "Family Homelessness: Background Research Findings and Policy Options". Departmental Papers (SPP).
  9. ^ "Domestic Violence and Homelessness: Statistics (2016)". Family and Youth Services Bureau | ACF. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  10. ^ "Substance Abuse and Homelessness" (PDF).
  11. ^ Zlotnick, Cheryl, Diana Kronstadt, and Linnea Klee. "Foster care children and family homelessness." American Journal of Public Health 88, no. 9 (1998): 1368-1370.
  12. ^ Cumella, Stuart; Grattan, Eleanor; Vostanis, Panos (1998). "The mental health of children in homeless families and their contact with health, education and social services". Health and Social Care in the Community. 6 (5): 331–342. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2524.1998.00139.x. ISSN 0966-0410.
  13. ^ Rafferty, Yvonne; Shinn, Marybeth (1991). "The impact of homelessness on children". American Psychologist. 46 (11): 1170–1179. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.46.11.1170. ISSN 1935-990X.
  14. ^ Goodman, Lisa A. "The relationship between social support and family homelessness: A comparison study of homeless and housed mothers." Journal of Community Psychology 19, no. 4 (1991): 321-332.
  15. ^ Shinn, Mary Beth; Rog, Debra; Culhane, Dennis (2005-05-01). "Family Homelessness: Background Research Findings and Policy Options". Departmental Papers (SPP).