Each year, it’s estimated that more than 150,000 families experience homelessness and are forced to seek emergency shelter for themselves and their children.
The families in the report also experienced reduced school mobility for their children, according to co-lead researcher Beth Shinn, professor and chair of the department of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development.
Compared to families who elected to remain in emergency shelter, families offered a voucher experienced significant reductions in child separations from parents; adult psychological distress; domestic violence; and food insecurity.
Additionally, costs of the voucher were comparable to or substantially less than the other interventions over the course of the follow-up period, she says.
Shinn collaborated with co-lead investigator Stephen Bell, vice president, social and economic policy, at Abt Associates. They evaluated the effectiveness of housing and services interventions in about a dozen cities, including subsidized housing, project-based transitional housing, and community-based rapid re-housing.
This is the first large-scale experiment ever conducted to assess the effectiveness of homelessness assistance programs for families.
The results of the Family Options Study, an 18-month evaluation of more than 2,000 homeless families, were announced today. The research comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).