Five-year Housing Demonstration Sites Face Diverse Challenges while Providing Some Benefits to Families

Safe, stable housing is critical to family safety, permanency, and well-being. Decades of research demonstrate the benefit of housing subsidies for families living in poverty and the relationship between child welfare involvement and housing. Until recently, there has been little attention given to housing as a platform for child welfare.

In 2012, the Children’s Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided an opportunity to test the concept of ‘housing first’ through five-year, funded supportive housing demonstrations for child welfare-involved families in five sites across the nation. Chapin Hall staff helped lead the demonstrations in two demonstration sites, Connecticut and San Francisco. The demonstrations provide critical evidence about housing as a platform to shore up families and serve as a platform for family unity, stability, and well-being.

Director of Research Anne Farrell and Researcher Melissa Kull partnered with researchers at the University of Connecticut to evaluate Connecticut’s Intensive Supportive Housing for Families program in collaboration with The Connection, Inc. and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

Policy Fellow Jennifer Miller Haight, Researcher Emily Rhodes, and Associate Researcher Tracey Lockaby partnered with Bridgette Lery and staff at the San Francisco Human Services Agency to evaluate the Families Moving Forward project.

These two projects are part of a set of five (Connecticut; San Francisco, CA; Memphis, TN; Cedar Rapids, IA; and Broward County, FL). Each involved cross-systems collaboration and provided housing vouchers and case management to families experiencing or living close to homelessness, along with other challenges. The findings across the five demonstrations are diverse; there are important lessons learned and new questions about replication and scaling, including screening for housing instability and homelessness; housing models (place based vs. scattered site); approaches to and “dosage” of case management; contour to local and community history, policy, and housing markets; and access to evidence-based interventions.

Feel free to peruse the findings from Connecticut and San Francisco. We welcome you to contact Chapin Hall staff with any questions you have.