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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Brown, Scott R.; Shinn, Marybeth; Khadduri, Jill
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    This brief examines the well-being of young children 20 months after staying in emergency homeless shelters with their families.

    Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Family Options Study, the brief explores young children’s:

    •pre-reading skills

    •pre-math skills

    •developmental delays

    •behavior challenges

    It draws comparisons between children who experienced homelessness and national norms for children of the same age.

    The brief also examines housing instability, child care instability, and enrollment in center-based care and Head Start, and associations between housing and child care stability and child well-being. (Author abstract)

    This brief examines the well-being of young children 20 months after staying in emergency homeless shelters with their families.

    Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Family Options Study, the brief explores young children’s:

    •pre-reading skills

    •pre-math skills

    •developmental delays

    •behavior challenges

    It draws comparisons between children who experienced homelessness and national norms for children of the same age.

    The brief also examines housing instability, child care instability, and enrollment in center-based care and Head Start, and associations between housing and child care stability and child well-being. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Arkin, Monica; Abdi, Fadumo
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2017

    Posted by Monica Arkin & Fadumo Abdi, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Family homelessness is pervasive across the United States. During the 2012-2013 school year alone roughly one in every 39, or approximately 1.25 million children experienced homelessness. Based on recent demographic trends the typical homeless family consists of a young single mother with one or two young children who live “doubled up” in another family’s household. Factors commonly associated with family homelessness are domestic violence, persistent poverty, unemployment, lack of health...

    Posted by Monica Arkin & Fadumo Abdi, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Family homelessness is pervasive across the United States. During the 2012-2013 school year alone roughly one in every 39, or approximately 1.25 million children experienced homelessness. Based on recent demographic trends the typical homeless family consists of a young single mother with one or two young children who live “doubled up” in another family’s household. Factors commonly associated with family homelessness are domestic violence, persistent poverty, unemployment, lack of health insurance, and insufficient aid from mainstream benefit programs. Minority families face additional risks for experiencing homelessness, such as institutionalized discrimination and multi-generational poverty, which are linked to disparities in employment, education, and access to quality housing. 
     

    While housing programs and models have been in existence and researched for many years, most have shown only short-term residential stability for families. Rapid rehousing, for example, has been used frequently as an intervention, but there is little evidence of its efficacy in providing long-term residential stability for families. Similarly, the use of permanent housing subsidies has shown promising results in short-term evaluations, but research highlighting long-term findings is not yet available.

    To affect lasting change, programs must recognize and address the multiple causes of homelessness, as well as the numerous barriers to becoming self-sufficient faced by homeless families. For some families, homelessness is episodic and can be solved with housing assistance alone. However, families may experience several types of long-term homelessness including chronic homelessness. This occurs when the family has been either homeless for over one year, or on four occasions within the three previous years, and the head of household has a disability, such as a serious mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental or physical disability that impairs self-sufficiency. Long-term homeless families, on the other hand, do not necessarily have a head of household with a disability, but have been homeless for over one year or on multiple occasions within the previous year. Long-term homelessness for these families is typically associated with multiple risk factors and cannot always be solved with housing alone. A report by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) on homeless families in New York City indicated common reasons that families became eligible for shelter were unemployment (over half of the families did not have a single employed household member), domestic violence (accounting for 26 percent of families who went to shelter), and family discord (accounting for 12 percent of families moving to shelter).

    Recently, there has been a shift toward a more holistic approach, supplementing housing assistance with other support services. One promising method is called Supportive Housing, which provides affordable housing along with intensive wrap-around services. Supportive housing services acknowledge that housing alone may not prevent homelessness by promoting self-sufficiency and family cohesion, often providing addiction recovery, education, and employment services. Keeping Families Together, a pilot initiative between 2007 and 2010, implemented a supportive housing approach in New York City with families that had been homeless for at least a year and had been involved with the child welfare system. The pilot showed many positive outcomes: child welfare involvement declined significantly among participating families, most families had no new abuse or neglect cases after receiving supportive housing, average school attendance improved, and six children were reunited with their families from foster care. 

    The positive findings from Keeping Families Together led policymakers to launch a federally funded demonstration grant to test the supportive housing model on a wider scale, understand the efficacy of the model, inform strategic use of limited resources, and measure return on investment. The Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing in the Child Welfare Systems multi-site demonstration launched in 2012 as a five-year program awarding four local and one statewide supportive housing pilot sites. Data is currently being collected for the national evaluation. Long-term findings from the multisite demonstration may add important longitudinal evidence to the efficacy of supportive housing in various communities across the nation.  

     
    The SSRC Library contains numerous reports and stakeholder resources about family homelessness, including:
    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.
  • Individual Author: Abdi, Fadumo
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2017

    Posted by Fadumo Abdi, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Housing First is a consumer-driven approach to addressing homelessness that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing additional support services as needed. This immediate focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent housing solutions is what differentiates the approach from other homelessness strategies. The primary focus on securing stable and permanent housing first is consistent with what...

    Posted by Fadumo Abdi, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Housing First is a consumer-driven approach to addressing homelessness that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing additional support services as needed. This immediate focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent housing solutions is what differentiates the approach from other homelessness strategies. The primary focus on securing stable and permanent housing first is consistent with what individuals and families experiencing homelessness want to achieve when they initially seek services.

    Programs modeled from the Housing First approach share critical elements, including:

    • A focus on helping individuals and families access permanent rental housing as quickly as possible;
    • A variety of supportive services are delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed and entirely voluntary basis; and
    • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated services compliance.

    For example, Pathways to Housing, the first Housing First program of its kind, was designed to end homelessness and support recovery for individuals with severe psychiatric disabilities and co-occurring substance use disorders by emphasizing consumer choice, psychiatric rehabilitation, and harm reduction. The program addresses homeless individuals’ needs from a consumer perspective which encourages consumers to define their own needs and set clear recovery goals coupled with intensive case management services to provide access to identified services without prerequisites for psychiatric treatment or sobriety. The consumer-centered approach highlighted in Pathways to Housing and other Housing First models is in contrast to other housing assistance models that condition the provision of housing based on participation and compliance with behavioral health, substance treatment, and/or work training program requirements. Other target populations served through the Housing First approach have included homeless families who are experiencing persistent poverty, unemployment, child welfare involvement, or domestic violence.

    Unlike its predecessors, Housing First assumes stable housing must be established before an individual can begin to work toward improving their mental health, financial stability, and self-sufficiency. Research has found that by providing homeless people with immediate housing without prerequisites of participation in treatment services, they were more likely to stay housed for longer and less likely to return to homelessness. Similarly, giving clients the choice of which supportive services they need has also been found to result in reduced psychiatric symptoms and substance use among participants.

    Consistent with the consumer choice perspective that underscores the Housing First approach, there is some variability in the supportive services programming offered to clients even when focusing on the same sub-population. For example, a 12-month evaluation of three programs using Housing First approach to serve homeless individuals with mental illnesses found that clients of all three programs demonstrated positive outcomes relative to sustained housing, increased earnings, and improved symptoms, but varied in terms of housing tenure and support services offered. Programs outlined in the study utilized several successful strategies for the delivery of services including housing-based case managers or daily home visits by coordinators available on a 24/7 basis. Housing inventory also varied by program with some scattering properties among available private apartments and housing facilities stock while other programs solely own properties used for program participants. The ways in which the three programs implemented the Housing First model presented unique success and challenges. For example, the program which owns the housing units is able to provide more client supervision, but this can limit client integration into the broader community. Although each program took different approaches to implementation, each ultimately achieved positive outcomes for the individuals served.

    As more research is conducted on the effects of the Housing First approach, findings suggest programs that adhere to the Housing First’s core elements of unconditional, immediate housing and choice of services demonstrate positive outcomes. With a growing recognition of the Housing First approach some practitioners have begun to describe it as a whole-system orientation and response to the problem of homelessness. This holistic orientation is influencing how communities across the country respond to the persistent challenges posed by homelessness particularly among those with complex needs. For example, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has funded a study to assess the effects of five programs using the Housing First model for high need families. The evaluation targets families in the child welfare system struggling with substance use, mental health issues, and unstable housing. Through the study, the program hopes to determine its ability to provide trauma-informed care, develop working relationships with local housing agencies, and capacity to connect families to community resources. Continued research and practice evidence will serve as helpful resource guides and implementation toolkits for the future as more communities implement a Housing First approach to address the myriad challenges of homeless individuals and families with the greatest needs.

    Learn more about the Housing First model in the SSRC Library:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to the SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.

  • Individual Author: Abdi, Fadumo; Lantos, Hannah
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2017

    Posted by Fadumo Abdi and Hannah Lantos, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Disconnected youth are broadly defined as individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor working. Some, including those that are more likely to be chronically disconnected, may face additional challenges as a result of complicated risk factors such as poor mental...

    Posted by Fadumo Abdi and Hannah Lantos, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Disconnected youth are broadly defined as individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor working. Some, including those that are more likely to be chronically disconnected, may face additional challenges as a result of complicated risk factors such as poor mental health, a history of involvement with the juvenile justice system or familial incarceration, being a member of a minority group, low academic achievement, or family poverty. The combination of these factors create barriers for youth to connect to education or, without education credentials, find employment, which further impedes their path to a self-sufficient adulthood.

    It is currently estimated that there are between 5.5 and 6.7 million youth who are neither working nor in school. This represents approximately 15 to 17 percent of the American youth population. Minorities, particularly minority males, are overrepresented among disconnected youth. Currently, the policy and practice literature doesn’t provide a universal definition of disconnected youth that is inclusive of the diverse population making estimations of the numbers of youth impacted by disconnection difficult. Youth who belong to other groups such as the LGBTQ population, youth who are aging out of foster care or have left the system, and youth who have been engaged with the juvenile justice system. Youth who are a part of these groups are vulnerable, at-risk for, or already disconnected and are more likely to experience more complex obstacles when transitioning towards self-sufficiency.

    Traditional indicators of a successful transition to adulthood have included career development, marriage, and parenthood. In the past three decades, these indicators of transition to adulthood have changed over time. Youth have shifted from early participation in the workforce to prolonged enrollment in higher education. Changes in the labor market, such as increased labor-saving technology, and the increasing prevalence of jobs that require a higher level skill set have made it difficult for youth to reach their long term career goals without higher education. The Great Recession of 2007 resulted in widespread increases in unemployment that was more severe for vulnerable populations including youth. Due to these social and workforce shifts, disconnected youth have found it more difficult to achieve self-sufficiency in the face of high unemployment.

    There are a number of initiatives underway that aim to help disconnected youth make a successful transition to adulthood. These programs take into account both the highly complex needs of disconnected youth and their importance to the economy. Intervention and prevention programs aimed at connecting youth to opportunity take four forms: (1) workforce development and skill building programs, (2) behavioral programs that work to prevent disconnection, (3) comprehensive programs which address social support needs and job training, and (4) early prevention programs that aim to re-engage adolescents who have dropped out of school or are at-risk of early drop out by providing counseling, helping to develop social and cognitive skills, and providing academic support services.

    Workforce development programs may vary depending on their target population and the specific outcomes to be achieved but typically includes career development opportunities for high schools students, combine education with vocational training, or target older youth with a greater focus on skills development. There is also a growing recognition that behavioral and mental health issues should be addressed alongside skill building and higher education attainment in order for disconnected youth to be successful long-term. In addition, employers and workforce programs have come to realize the importance of soft skills development, such as communication skills, conflict resolution, and self-regulation, for youth entering the workforce.

    Despite the broad scope of youth disconnection, researchers and practitioners have used common characteristics to describe this population, such as age, educational attainment, length of unemployment, or the socio-economic costs of youth disconnection to identify key factors that may alleviate challenges associated with the highly complex nature of youth disconnection. More evidence on youth disconnection is available now than at any other time in our history which helps to facilitate greater understanding of the challenges disconnected youth face, the extent of youth disconnection locally and nationally, and ultimately the development of better strategies to serve them.

    The SSRC library contains numerous resources and evaluations related to disconnected youth, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to the SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.

  • Individual Author: Walker, Karen
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2017

    Posted by Karen Walker, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Rural population in the United States has declined dramatically over the last 100 years. In 2015, 86 percent of Americans lived in metropolitan areas, which include both cities with over 50,000 people and “metropolitan clusters” that have 2,500 to 50,000 residents. However, over 46 million Americans live in non-metropolitan—that is, rural—areas.

    Rural poverty is widespread in the USA with higher proportions of rural residents than urban residents being poor. Rural poverty tends to...

    Posted by Karen Walker, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Rural population in the United States has declined dramatically over the last 100 years. In 2015, 86 percent of Americans lived in metropolitan areas, which include both cities with over 50,000 people and “metropolitan clusters” that have 2,500 to 50,000 residents. However, over 46 million Americans live in non-metropolitan—that is, rural—areas.

    Rural poverty is widespread in the USA with higher proportions of rural residents than urban residents being poor. Rural poverty tends to cluster in southern states and on tribal lands across the United States. Between 2010-2014, almost 22 percent of all people who lived in rural southern areas were poor. Further, the South contains 85 percent of the persistently poor counties in the US, meaning those counties that have had poverty rates of 20 percent or more for more than thirty years. And Southern states contain a disproportionate share of the US rural population (42 percent) compared with rural areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and western US.

    While higher poverty rates exist for people of all races and ethnicities living in rural areas, poverty rates between urban and rural residents vary by race. For example, in 2014 white poverty was about 12 percent in metropolitan areas and 15 percent in rural areas. In contrast, African American poverty was about 26 percent in metropolitan areas and 37 percent in rural areas. This pattern was similar for American Indians: about 25 percent of those living in cities were poor compared with 33 percent of the rural population. Further, poverty rates for minority populations were higher in 2014 than they were in 2003. And, despite a large increase in real incomes across the United States in 2015 compared with 2014, incomes for people in non-metropolitan areas did not demonstrate a statistically significant change. For many in rural communities, poverty is pervasive and persistent.

    For children, poverty in rural areas is a significant problem. Rural child poverty is especially pronounced for minority children. More than half of all rural African American children and 40 percent of American Indian children live in poverty. The consequences of growing up poor include poorer health and a higher probability of continued poverty into adulthood compared with children who grow up in wealthier households. To break this intergenerational cycle of poverty, sustained and intentional efforts are needed.

    Poverty, whether urban or rural, has multiple causes, including a mismatch between educational qualifications and skills and available jobs, few job opportunities (a particular problem in rural areas, even in good economic times), and accessible services top the list. Difficulties finding reliable transportation and high quality child care available during the hours that parents work present acute challenges in rural areas. Current rural poverty has been exacerbated by the recession that occurred between 2007-2010, which resulted in greater income losses to rural families and a relatively limited recovery. Historical events have had a lasting impact on rural poverty, such as long-standing discriminatory practices toward minorities and policies restricting American Indians to relatively non-productive lands.

    In addition, rural geography presents challenges to ameliorating poverty. The dispersion of the population over large areas and the relative paucity of public transportation pose significant challenges to educational, employment, health care, and child care solutions that may work in urban areas. Rural residents rely heavily on private cars to meet transportation needs. Small studies indicate that poor rural residents often depend on unreliable modes of transportation or car pooling with friends and family for getting to work. Subsidized child care may not be available in rural areas. Skilled health care providers are in short supply in rural areas, meaning that some of America’s poorest residents, who suffer more from both poor mental and physical health than their middle-class counterparts, cannot get the health services they need. In addition, a lack of consistent data makes it difficult to establish a basic understanding of the prevalence of problems related to poverty, the availability and use of services, as well as the effectiveness of services all of which impact funding allocations to rural communities.

    Efforts to ameliorate rural poverty have not been as successful as originally hoped, but they have generated knowledge and useful lessons for future efforts. In a 2006 report, researchers suggested that, in addition to employment-readiness activities, economic development initiatives such as wage subsidies, tax credits, low interest employer loans, community improvement projects, etc. may also improve the number and quality of jobs in rural communities. Similarly, the challenges of transportation and child care in rural areas likely require systemic efforts to increase their supply, reliability, and quality. Improvement efforts would require significant investments—not only to fortify existing services—but also strengthen the leadership capacity of rural communities to better align resources and spur regional improvements.

    Delivering services to rural populations to help them transition from poverty to economic opportunity is challenging but not impossible. Many of the barriers to self-sufficiency in rural areas are systemic, pervasive, and persistent. However, strong leadership, committed sustainable cross-sector partnerships, investments in professional development of staff, and attention to data collection and overall effectiveness will help to better prepare rural Americans for the future.

    The SSRC library contains numerous resources and evaluations related to rural poverty, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to the SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.

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