Yesterday, HUD released the long-term results of its Family Options Study: the largest experimental study examining the impact of different housing interventions for homeless families. The study was done with 2,282 participants in 12 communities across the United States, with varying housing market conditions. The results paint a fascinating, albeit unsurprising, picture of the most effective solutions to family homelessness.
Findings reveal that long-term housing subsidies are by far the most effective outcome for long-term housing stability, child well-being, and food security, among other benefits.
From the Summary Report:
The 3-year evidence from the Family Options Study indicates that having priority access to deep long-term housing subsidies produces substantial benefits for families. … Relative to usual care, assignment to the [permanent subsidized housing] intervention reduced by more than one-half most forms of residential instability, improved multiple measures of adult and child well-being, and reduced food insecurity.
Other interventions, such as short-term rental subsidies and time-limited transitional housing, were not shown to have significant impacts on long-term stability or any other measures of family well-being, highlighting the important implication that homelessness is primarily a housing affordability problem.
This newest research backs the housing-first approach and should guide New York’s decisions in responding to family homelessness. Namely, the City should allocate a greater share of limited federal housing resources, such as public housing and Section 8, as well as permanently affordable units financed through HPD to homeless families. Additionally, a new proposal put forth by State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi called Home Stability Support would provide a much-needed State-backed housing subsidy program. With a record number of homeless families in NYC shelters, government at all levels must come together to implement solutions that work.