Housing Vouchers Improve Housing Outcomes for Formerly Homeless Families
The Family Options Study: Three-year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families documents the outcomes of homeless families and relative cots of interventions three years (37 months) after random assignment.
The findings about the homeless families at the 3-year mark in large part mirror the findings documented at 20 months. The long-term outcomes demonstrate the power of a voucher to convey significantly improved housing outcomes to formerly homeless families, when compared with the housing outcomes of families offered other interventions.
Families offered a permanent subsidy experienced less than half as many episodes of subsequent homelessness, and vast improvements across a broad set of measures related to residential stability.
Many of the non-housing outcomes of interest that were strongly influenced by the offer of a voucher in the short-term, such as reductions in psychological distress and intimate partner violence, are still detected, but some positive impacts found at the 20-month follow-up are not detected at the longer, 3-year follow-up.
For example, 20 months after receiving a long-term housing subsidy, typically a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) reduced the proportion of families with child separations in the 6 months before the survey–this effect was not detected in the 6 months before the 37-month survey. Also in this longer window of observation, some positive impacts in the child well-being domain have emerged.
Families offered a voucher continue to be significantly more food secure and experience significantly less economic stress than families offered the other interventions. On measures of employment and earnings, the modest negative impacts of vouchers relative to usual care have fallen, although some remain statistically significant.
The study followed the outcomes of the 2,282 formerly families approximately 37 months after having been randomly assigned to one of four housing and/or services interventions. The study measured five domains of family well-being:
- housing stability,
- family preservation,
- adult well- being,
- child well-being, and
The Study Summary concludes:
“The striking impacts of assignment to the SUB intervention in reducing subsequent stays in shelter and places not meant for human habitation provide support for the view that, for most families, homelessness is a housing affordability problem that can be remedied with long-term housing subsidies without specialized services.”