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Homeless Families

Contrasting The Poor-but-housed With Homeless Families

Further insight into homeless families comes from comparing them to poor-but-housed families. In a study of social relationships, 677 homeless mothers and 495 poor-but-housed mothers were interviewed in New York City (Shinn, Knickman, and Weitzman 1991). The homeless families were interviewed at the time of their request for shelter to avoid confusing characteristics caused by residence in the shelter with characteristics of the families themselves. A surprising finding was that the homeless respondents in fact were in greater touch with their social networks than their housed counterparts. However, the homeless respondents were less able to stay with relatives and friends, in large part because they had already worn out their welcome by having stayed with them previously.

Ellen L. Bassuk and John Buchner (1997) contrasted a sample of single mothers and their children living in shelters in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a sample of low-income single mothers who had never been homeless. Mothers of the homeless families were more likely to have been in foster-care placement and to have had a female caregiver who used drugs. In their adult lives they had lived in the area for a shorter period of time. They were also more likely to be African American or Puerto Rican. Factors that prevented homelessness for the poor families were linked with the mother's being a primary tenant (her name was on the lease), receiving monetary housing subsidies, and having a larger social network.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesHomeless Families - Prevalence Of Family Homelessness, Causes Of Family Homelessness, Adaptations To Homelessness, Contrasting The Poor-but-housed With Homeless Families