This study examines whether providing supportive housing to participants in the Children’s Bureau–funded Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System improved housing and economic stability for families in the long run. The demonstration used a randomized controlled trial to assign eligible child welfare–involved families experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness to two groups: those who receive supportive housing and those who receive services as usual. We examined multiple dimensions of housing instability, such as homelessness, evictions, moves, overcrowding, and housing quality. We then used self-reported employment measures, benefit receipt, earnings, and measures of material hardship to examine economic stability.
Why This Matters
Approximately 1 in 10 children who enter foster care are removed at least in part because of lack of housing. Therefore, housing and economic stability are of utmost importance for families who are at risk of removal or working towards reunification. Housing subsidies reduce the cost of housing, making housing more affordable and allowing families to obtain and stay in stable and secure housing. Previous work looking at short-term outcomes found that supportive housing improved housing outcomes for families in the treatment group. Compared with families in the control group, treatment families reported higher lease rates, better housing stability, and higher housing quality. However, economic outcomes in the short term were mixed. This study is one of the first to look at how providing supportive housing to welfare-involved families affected their stability in the long run.
What We Found
We found that housing assistance improved housing stability for child welfare–involved families in the long run. Families in the treatment group reported more stable housing situations. They were more likely to live in a dwelling with a lease, more likely to have fewer moves and evictions, and less likely to have a homeless spell or spend time in a shelter. They were also less likely to face overcrowding, which was driven by fewer families living in intergenerational households. We found no differences in self-reported housing quality and found that economic outcomes were largely consistent with those at one year. Our results highlight that supportive housing provides more than a place to live: it provides families with choice during an uncertain and stressful time.