Predictors of Homelessness and Doubling-Up Among at Risk Families

Angela Fertig and David Reingold

August 2008

Over the last 25 years homeless families with children have emerged as a distinct subgroup of the U.S. homeless population. In 2007, between one-third and one-half of all homeless persons in the United States were members of families with children. Among homeless women, approximately two-thirds were living with minor children, 80% of whom were under eleven years of age. The increase in family homelessness over the last quarter century has coincided with a growth in the number of single-parent families and a general decline in social support networks for such families.  The cause of homelessness varies greatly from state to state, but past research has generally focused on one of two theories of causation. While one area of research has concentrated on city-level factors as the main cause of homelessness, another has focused on individual and family characteristics. Because of limitations in data, these two perspectives have rarely been studied in conjunction with one another. This brief is based on analyses of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study that examines the relative contribution of both family- and city-level factors in predicting family homelessness and doubling-up.

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