Housing Vouchers Help Homeless Families

HUD Study Reaffirms Housing Vouchers Most Effective Tool for Families with Children to Escape Homelessness

Ehren Dohler’s new blog for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website reviews the three-year findings from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Family Options Study and the importance of housing vouchers to homeless families.

The study tracked more than 2,000 families over a period of three years who began the study in homeless shelters in 12 communities.

Ehren Dohler is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Coordinator of the Housing Choice Voucher Funding Project. He has shared his insight and expertise with Monarch Housing’s partners in New Jersey through webinars and social media trainings.

“Housing vouchers are the most effective tool for families seeking to escape the hardships of homelessness and raise their children in safe, stable homes …,” writes Dohler.

Like the 20-month results that were previously released, the final report concludes that housing vouchers are the most effective tool for families seeking to escape the hardships of homelessness and raise their children in safe, stable homes.

It also concludes that vouchers are cost-effective relative to rapid rehousing and transitional housing, the two other interventions typically available in communities.

By the end of the study, families who were assigned to receive housing vouchers were less than half as likely as the control group families (who weren’t offered vouchers or other assistance under the study) to have spent a night in a shelter again in the prior year or lived doubled up with other families in the last six months.

Continued or repeated homelessness and housing insecurity remained endemic among the control group families: 38 percent of these families had either been homeless or doubled up recently. The total cost of assistance for a family in the voucher group was only about 10 percent higher than for families in the other groups, yet vouchers achieved much better outcomes for families.

Families assigned to receive vouchers were also able to provide a better home environment for their children. Parents were a third less likely to experience domestic violence, and households were 20 percent less likely to have a difficult time affording food for their children.

More than 300,000 children in the United States have recently endured the insecurities of homelessness. To make meaningful reductions in family homelessness — which harms children’s health and educational achievement — policymakers should expand the number of housing vouchers available to families.

Ehren Dohler’s Blog Post

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