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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Are Homeless Families Connected to the Social Safety Net?

Burt, M.R., Khadduri, J., Gubits, D.
Type new
Year published new

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


This brief, from the ACF Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), examines whether families experiencing homelessness are connected to the benefits and services of the social safety net. Using data from the Family Options Study, researchers found these families were participating in TANF cash assistance, publicly funded health insurance programs (e.g. Medicaid, CHIP, or other state-funded programs), and SNAP at similar or higher rates than other poor families in the same communities. One exception was WIC where recently homeless families participated at lower rates compared with other families. Twenty months after being in a shelter, most families were no longer homeless but remained poor and continued receiving public benefits. Furthermore, families with recent episodes of homelessness enrolled their preschoolers in early education or center-based care at higher rates than all children in families below the poverty line.


Available for free download on the OPRE website at:

Accession number
Electronically published journal article, but not part of an issue