Characteristics of Transitional Housing for Homeless Families

Martha R. Burt

September 7, 2006

This report was written in preparation for a larger study sponsored by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research to examine the effects of transitional housing (TH) on homeless families. The larger study involves following a sample of homeless families for one year after they leave transitional housing  to understand what happens to them and the ways in which TH program participation may have helped them retain housing.  Preparation for the study involved surveys of TH programs in five communities to gather information that would allow the researchers to identify and describe different elements of TH programs.  These characterizations of TH programs would then be used to determine impacts on family outcomes.  This report answers the first research questions of the project:  1. How can the universe of TH programs be categorized, or at least understood, in relation to a program’s willingness to address families with different types and levels of housing barriers?  What proportion of programs takes only the most housing-ready families, and what proportion work with families with many barriers?  2. How can TH programs be categorized in relation to their service offerings?   What is the expected length of time needed to “complete” each program, and what is the maximum length of stay for each program?

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