Family Processes in the Context of Housing Instability and Intensive Service Use: Implications for Parenting and Caregiver Well-Being
Mayberry, Lindsay Satterwhite
Since the mid-1980’s families have been the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States. Homeless programs were not designed for families, but rather as rehabilitative institutions for individuals. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 supported efforts to reduce the number of families in homeless shelters and transitional housing programs, but families’ experience of these programs are not yet understood. This paper presents analysis of 80 interviews with family caregivers experiencing housing instability and homelessness to examine the effects of various housing interventions (i.e., homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, short-term housing subsidies through Community-Based Rapid Rehousing programs, and long-term housing choice vouchers) on family processes and caregiver well-being. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were used to address the following questions about families’ experiences with the housing service system: (a) How do various living situations affect family routines and rituals? (b) How do service intensive housing programs and independent living situations affect parents’ support networks? (c) What challenges do parents encounter as they attempt to obtain stable housing through the housing service system, and what strategies do they use to address these challenges? Findings support the de-institutionalization of homeless programs, and the implementation of a community-based service approach for families experiencing homelessness.