Homelessness: Programs and the people they serve

Martha R. Burt


The National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC) was conducted in 1996 to provide information on homeless assistance programs and the clients who use them to federal agencies responsible for administering homeless assistance programs and to other interested parties. The data are national in scope, and the survey is the first to gather, through one effort, a wide range of information relevant to the missions of the federal sponsors. NSHAPC was not designed or conducted to produce a count or estimate of homeless persons. The Bureau of the Census conducted the study for 12 federal agencies. NSHAPC selected a sample of 76 geographical areas to represent the entire United States, including the 28 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs); 24 small and medium-sized MSAs randomly selected from the remaining MSAs; and 24 groups of rural counties randomly selected from all rural counties. Through telephone interviews and a mail survey, the study identified and gathered information about 16 types of homeless assistance programs: emergency shelters, transitional housing programs,  permanent housing programs for formerly homeless people, programs distributing vouchers for emergency accommodation, programs accepting vouchers in exchange for giving emergency accommodation, food pantries, soup kitchens, mobile food programs, physical health care programs, mental health care programs, and alcohol/drug programs.

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