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] 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.[2] Homeless families are generally thought to be headed by women. In the United States, homeless families make up about a third of all homeless people in the country.[3]

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.[4] Similarly, other studies have found that the majority of homeless families stay in homeless shelters for relatively brief periods of time. These families then exit and do not return. About 20 percent have longer stays in shelters, but only a small number of families have repeat stays.[5]

Factors involved[edit]

Family homelessness is thought to have a high proportion of children in foster care.[6]

Social isolation is thought to be more a consequence than a cause of family homelessness.[7]


Some American researchers argue that social programs that either reduce poverty or increase the supply of affordable housing will be effective in lowering the total number of homeless families.[2]


  1. ^ Nunez, Ralph, and Cybelle Fox. "A snapshot of family homelessness across America." Political Science Quarterly 114, no. 2 (1999): 289-307.
  2. ^ a b McChesney, Kay Young. "Family homelessness: A systemic problem." Journal of Social Issues 46, no. 4 (1990): 191-205.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Shinn, Marybeth. "Family homelessness: State or trait?." American journal of community psychology 25, no. 6 (1997): 755-769.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Zlotnick, Cheryl, Diana Kronstadt, and Linnea Klee. "Foster care children and family homelessness." American Journal of Public Health 88, no. 9 (1998): 1368-1370.
  7. ^ 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.