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Exiting Shelter: An Epidemiological Analysis of Barriers and Facilitators for Families

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study from University of Chicago’s Social Science Review examines the role of individual- and family-level factors in predicting the length of shelter stays for homeless families. Interviews were conducted with all families exiting one of six emergency family shelters in Worcester, Massachusetts, between November 2006 and November 2007. Analyses, using an ordinary least squares regression model, find that families with a positive alcohol or drug screen in the year prior stay 85 days longer than those without a positive screen; families leaving shelter with a housing subsidy stay 66 days longer than those leaving without a subsidy. Demographic factors, education, employment, health, and mental health are not found to predict shelter stay duration. Consistent with prior research, housing resources relate to families’ time in shelter; with the exception of a positive substance abuse screen, individual-level problems are not related to their time in shelter. Efforts to expand these resources at the local, state, and national levels are a high priority.

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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