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Linking Human Services and Housing Supports to Address Family Homelessness: Promising Practices in the Field

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The growing concern about family homelessness has renewed the focus among policymakers, researchers, advocates, and practitioners on the use of mainstream programs to prevent and end homelessness. The underlying belief is that programs explicitly for homeless people cannot be expected to do the whole job of preventing and ending family homelessness. Indeed, ever since the start of specialized federal funding for homeless people, it has been recognized that mainstream programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), provide much greater resources than targeted programs for helping families leave homelessness.

It is within this context that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) commissioned a study that focuses on local programs in 14 communities that link human services with housing supports to prevent and end family homelessness. (The Department is also engaged in a similar study that focuses on homeless individuals.) The primary goal of the study is to identify promising practices that facilitated the development, implementation, and sustainability of these programs.

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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.

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