However, the similarities between families who become homeless and other low-income families make it difficult to design a prevention program that effectively and efficiently targets those families who are most at risk.
For those families who do become homeless, ample evidence suggests that a permanent housing subsidy—provided through the Housing Choice Voucher program or another long-term rent subsidy—is the best way for homeless families to obtain and maintain stable housing.
Families who exit emergency shelters with a long-term rent subsidy are significantly less likely to return to shelter or experience other forms of housing instability, such as multiple moves or crowding.
While homeless families need a variety of services, residential programs with on-site supervision and services, such as transitional housing, appear to be unnecessary for most families who experience homelessness.
From the available evidence, we can draw some clear lessons for policy and practice:
The availability of mainstream housing assistance makes a substantial difference for ending homelessness for families with children.
Communities should examine carefully the role of transitional housing for families.
Like other poor families, families who experience homelessness need an array of services and supports.
The Center for Evidence-based Solutions to Homelessness is dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness by connecting research to practice. Their mission is to empower communities to plan and implement services for people experiencing homelessness on the basis of the strongest available evidence.