Articles «Previous Next»

Testing a Typology of Family Homelessness Based on Patterns of Public Shelter Utilization in Four U.S. Jurisdictions: Implications for Policy and Program Planning

Dennis P. Culhane, University of Pennsylvania
Stephen Metraux, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Jung Min Park, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Maryanne Schretzman, City of New York
Jesse Valente, State of Massachusetts

Article comments

Postprint version. Published in Housing Policy Debate, Volume 18, Issue 1, May 2007, 28 pages.

Abstract

This study tests a typology of family homelessness based on patterns of public shelter utilization and examines whether family characteristics are associated with those patterns. The results indicate that a substantial majority of homeless families stay in public shelters for relatively brief periods, exit, and do not return. Approximately 20 percent stay for long periods. A small but noteworthy proportion cycles in and out of shelters repeatedly. In general, families with long stays are no more likely than families with short stays to have intensive behavioral health treatment histories, to be disabled, or to be unemployed. Families with repeat stays have the highest rates of intensive behavioral health treatment, placement of children in foster care, disability, and unemployment. The results suggest that policy and program factors, rather than family characteristics, are responsible for long shelter stays. An alternative conceptual framework for providing emergency assistance to homeless families is discussed.

Suggested Citation

Dennis P. Culhane, 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 U.S. Jurisdictions: Implications for Policy and Program Planning" Departmental Papers (SPP) (2007).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/dennis_culhane/1