Newsroom2018-11-13T13:02:10+00:00

News from The Bassuk Center

National Network to End Family Homelessness Launches New Policy Paper – Family Homelessness: The Path Ahead

The Bassuk Center for Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth (The Bassuk Center) has published a new policy paper titled Family Homelessness: The Path Ahead. Developed in collaboration with The National Network to End Family Homelessness, the paper outlines the Network’s approach to ending family homelessness, summarizes key policy priorities, and shares voices from local communities.

Family Homelessness: The Path Ahead emphasizes the continuing increase in youth and family homelessness, the underlying systemic issues driving this crisis, and needed reform of US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policy. The paper underscores the consequences of HUD’s limited definition of homelessness, innauracy of HUD’s Point-in-Time count, shortcomings of federal funding mechanisms that fail to respond to local needs, and how programs must combine housing with services for families to achieve long-term housing stability.

The paper addresses the multiple systems that complicate access to stable housing and well-being for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. Recommended reforms include: advocating for the provisions contained in the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HR 1511, S 611); changes to the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA); enhancing HUD data systems; and reforming Continuum of Care governance to allow local flexibility, collaboration, and greater transparency. Other priorities address issues of health and mental health care, affordable housing, and adequate earnings for low-wage workers.

The National Network to End Family Homelessness is made up of over 350 organizations, service providers, and advocates working with children and families in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The paper was prepared to engage local providers, inform advocacy initiatives, and mobilize communities. As stated in the paper, “…we commit to reforming the current system so that children in our shelters never become homeless again.”

Service Providers Across Nation Endorse New Report on Family Homelessness

Support Comes from All 50 States and Canada

Hundreds of service providers in all 50 states and in Canada have endorsed a new report on family homelessness that contends that housing must be combined with essential services to keep families and children stably housed.

Services Matter: How Housing and Services Can End Family Homelessness” asserts that current federal policy is failing and will not meet the government’s goal of ending family homelessness by 2020. A sampling of comments about the report from service providers is below.

I am hoping our politicians and policymakers will read this report and recognize the need to step in and turn the tide on this unacceptable situation.
Martha Ryan, Homeless Prenatal Program, California

This report truly gives voice to service providers who know that services are essential, and convincingly illustrates that policymakers have reached conclusions about addressing family homelessness without real evidence.
Nancy Radner, Primo Center for Women and Children, Chicago, Illinois

Access to affordable housing coupled with supportive services that include job training and education, and access to a livable wage are essential. When families are better, so are communities and our nation as a whole.
Debra Carr, Family Place, Texas

I am pleased to see that the majority of service providers know that services combined with housing is an important component.
Jonna Sharpe, PATH, New Mexico

This report cuts through the inertia, misinformation, and speculation permeating the field.
Joyce Coffee, Family Rescue, Illinois

This is such an important and concise report on what we experience daily in the work to end family homelessness.
Diana McWilliams, Families Forward Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We are at a watershed moment, and we can and must regain the spirit of being a nation of neighbors that embraces the vitality of community, and quality of life for all.
Rev. Dr. Carmen Porco, Housing Ministries of American Baptists, Wisconsin

Homeless families with children have once again fallen to the end of the line. Rapid rehousing is not a solution for all families. Services to homeless families with children cannot be improved by a ‘one size fits all’ policy.
Terry Ruth Lindemann, Family Promise of Las Vegas, Nevada

Investing in these families’ stability is their only hope for dignity and productivity. Such investments will reduce the crisis management cost and the human cost.
Jane O’Leary, Bridges to Housing Stability, Maryland

It is way past time that our politicians give this moral issue the attention and resources that it needs.
Chuck Taylor, Roar Enterprises, Inc., Wisconsin

The impact of homelessness, joblessness, and grinding poverty creates stressors in children that often are not seen, but are clearly felt for a lifetime. We can and we must do more to care for these families. Nothing less is acceptable.
Rufus Williams, BBF Family Services, Illinois

The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth connects and supports communities across the nation that are responding to family homelessness. Using research-based knowledge and evidence-based solutions, we advance policies and practices that stabilize homeless and vulnerable children, youth, and families in the community, and promote their wellbeing. For more, visit www.bassukcenter,org.

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New Report Finds Federal Policy on Family Homelessness Is Failing

Service Providers Say Family Homelessness Is Increasing

A new report on family homelessness in America asserts that current federal policy is failing and unlikely to meet the government’s goal of ending family homelessness by 2020. The report includes a national survey of service providers who work with homeless families in which 85% of providers say that family homelessness has increased in their service area in the past two years.

Services Matter: How Housing and Services Can End Family Homelessness” by The Bassuk Center contends that federal policy is failing because family homelessness is viewed as a housing problem rather than the result of complex interactions among economic and social factors, and family circumstances. The reports offers a comprehensive solution based on three decades of research and best practices implemented by local communities.

According to the report, federal policy is failing because family homelessness is viewed solely as a housing problem rather than the result of complex interactions among economic and social factors, and family circumstances. The report offers a comprehensive solution to family homelessness that is based on three decades of research and on best practices implemented by local communities.

“Housing is essential to ending family homelessness, but it is not sufficient,” said Ellen L Bassuk, M.D. of The Bassuk Center which issued the report. “Along with affordable housing, families need basic services to live stable lives, including physical safety, child care, transportation, work and educational opportunities, help with parenting, and health and mental health care for parents and children.”

The typical American homeless family is comprised of a young woman alone with her two young children, many below the age of six. African Americans are disproportionately represented. Mothers have few job opportunities due to limited education and workplace experiences. More than 90% of mothers have experienced physical and sexual abuse as children, and domestic violence as adults. Not surprisingly, many mothers suffer from clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The children have high rates of health and mental health problems, and struggle in school.

The report presents results of a national survey of more than 900 service providers from all 50 states who work with homeless families in their local communities. Among the survey’s findings in the report:
• 93% of providers agree that most families need services and supports to remain stably housed.
• 88% agree that trauma experienced by mothers, such as domestic violence, is a common cause of family homelessness.
• 91% agree that mental health and substance use services must be part of the solution.
• Only 14% say that housing alone can end family homelessness.

“Service providers around the country are seeing more and more families becoming homeless,” said Carmela J. DeCandia, Psy. D. of The Bassuk Center. “There is striking consensus from local communities that these families need both housing and services to remain stably housed. This matches up strongly with decades of research about family homelessness.”

The report profiles five exemplary programs in local communities that illustrate the essential components of a solution to end family homelessness. These components include:

1. Permanent affordable housing
2. Education, job training, and income supports
3. Assessment of the needs of parents and children
4. Trauma-informed care
5. Recognition and treatment of depression in mothers
6. Family preservation
7. Parenting supports
8. Children’s development and mental health needs

“The solution to family homelessness is at hand and is already being implemented in some communities,” Bassuk concluded. “But local communities cannot do this alone. We hope this report starts a grassroots effort that gives service providers a united voice to demand decisive federal action that will end this national tragedy.”

The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth connects and supports communities across the nation that are responding to family homelessness. Using research-based knowledge, evidence-based solutions, and experiences from the field, we advance policies and practices that stabilize homeless and vulnerable children, youth, and families in the community, and promote their wellbeing.

Community Provider Survey Finds Services Are Essential to Ending Homelessness

Effective Solutions Require Both Housing and Services

According to a national survey of community providers who work with homeless families, only 14% say that housing with no other services can end family homelessness. The survey, conducted by The Bassuk Center for its new report, “Services Matter: How Housing and Services Can End Family Homelessness,” finds striking consensus among service providers about how to end family homelessness.

The survey was conducted online in September 2015. Survey results are based on 907 responses from service providers representing all 50 states. Among the survey’s findings:

Providers report that family homelessness is increasing:
• 85% of providers say that family homelessness has increased in their service area over the past two years.

Services are necessary to help homeless families:
• 93% agree that most families need services and supports to remain stably housed.
• 95% agree that services should start when families enter emergency shelter and continue when they are permanently housed.

Assessment of family members is needed:
• 94% agree that assessment of each family member is needed.
• 96% agree that along with housing and income, assessments should focus on health, mental health, substance use, and trauma exposure.
• 91% agree that assessments should focus on the wellbeing of the children.

Solutions must address trauma:
• 88% agree that trauma experienced by mothers, such as domestic violence, is a common cause of family homelessness.
• 80% agree that many homeless mothers have experienced physical and sexual abuse as children, and now as adults have post-trauma responses.
• 93% agree that addressing the impact of trauma must be part of the solution to ending family homelessness.
• 95% agree that services for homeless families should be trauma-informed.

Mental health issues must be addressed:
• 91% agree that mental health and substance use services must be part of the solution for ending homelessness among families.
• 80% agree that depression that requires treatment is present in many homeless mothers.

Homeless children are struggling:
• 71% agree that most homeless children have difficulty attending school regularly.
• 69% agree that many homeless children are unable to keep up with their homework and fall behind.
• 70% agree that many homeless children have behavioral problems.

Services and supports as essential for an effective response:
• 97% agree that that education, job training, and income supports are necessary for many homeless mothers to remain stably housed.
• 98% say case managers should make referrals for mental health and substance use treatment.
• 97% agree that providing parenting supports improves outcomes for children.

The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth connects and supports communities across the nation that are responding to family homelessness. Using research-based knowledge, evidence-based solutions, and experiences from the field, we advance policies and practices that stabilize homeless and vulnerable children, youth, and families in the community, and promote their wellbeing.

Media Contact

John Kellogg
jkellogg@bassukcenter.org
781-247-1770 (o)
617-875-1788 (c)

Join the conversation at #NotOneChild

Comments on “Services Matter: How Housing & Services Can End Family Homelessness”

Read the Report
Download the Report

I am hoping our politicians and policymakers will read this report and recognize the need to step in and turn the tide on this unacceptable situation.
Martha Ryan, Homeless Prenatal Program, California

This report truly gives voice to service providers who know that services are essential, and convincingly illustrates that policymakers have reached conclusions about addressing family homelessness without real evidence.
Nancy Radner, Primo Center for Women and Children, Chicago, Illinois

Access to affordable housing coupled with supportive services that include job training and education, and access to a livable wage are essential. When families are better, so are communities and our nation as a whole.
Debra Carr, Family Place, Texas

I am pleased to see that the majority of service providers know that services combined with housing is an important component.
Jonna Sharpe, PATH, New Mexico

This report cuts through the inertia, misinformation, and speculation permeating the field.
Joyce Coffee, Family Rescue, Illinois

This is such an important and concise report on what we experience daily in the work to end family homelessness.
Diana McWilliams, Families Forward Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We are at a watershed moment, and we can and must regain the spirit of being a nation of neighbors that embraces the vitality of community, and quality of life for all.
Rev. Dr. Carmen Porco, Housing Ministries of American Baptists, Wisconsin