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Federal News , Homelessness , Reports and Publications

Relationship Between Family Homelessness and Employment

14 November 2018
Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE)

The Employment of Families Experiencing Homelessness: Homeless Families Research is the 8th in a series of briefs focusing in on the income and employment rates of families during their stay in shelter over a three-year period. The three major areas of interest in this brief include:

  • Why parents report not working; 

  • The impact of employment rates and income levels over the three-year period; and

  • The study’s association between low income and low employment rates on future episodes of homelessness.

The brief takes a deeper dive into how employment, household income and homelessness can build off of and negatively impact one another. For example, a study in Milwaukee found that families were more likely to experience job loss when faced with housing instability. The alternative situation arises when families do not have a stable place to live. Exhibit 2 outlines the most frequent causes parents in shelter cited for not working in the week leading up to being interviewed.

It was discovered that disability and educational attainment were largely responsible for a family’s experiences of unemployment. Individuals without a disability were 3 times more likely to be employed compared to those who did report a disability, 22% of individuals with a high school diploma worked the week before entering the shelter, and only 14% without a diploma worked the week before their shelter stay. 

Overall, it was found that employment was unstable for most families over the three-year period, and families with lower rates of employment were often more likely to experience repeated periods of homelessness. The research indicates that the causation between the two was not clear. There were cases where lack of employment contributed to financial hardships which created housing instability, but there were also examples of housing instability creating strain on a parent/family’s ability to find or maintain employment.  

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