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Friday, April 10 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS11.0 Waking Up in Our Own House: Homeless Mothers’ Perspectives on Housing Stability and Child Well-Being

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Despite growing levels of family homelessness and concern about its effects on child well-being, there has been a general lack of qualitative research exploring mechanisms by which housing instability influences child well-being. Qualitative data may also suggest ways to parse differences between the effects of housing instability itself and the environments families are exposed to while unstably housed. Semi-structured interviews with 80 homeless mothers enrolled in a random assignment study of housing interventions are used to explore these relationships. Differences among families assigned to short-term housing subsidies, long-term housing subsidies, and transitional housing interventions compared to a usual care condition of continuing to work with shelter staff to locate housing are also explored. Coding and data analysis of an initial ten family subset from the subsidy and usual care groups identified influences of housing stability and environments on child educational, behavioral, and health outcomes as well as mothers’ strategies for reducing negative influences. Mothers experiencing high housing instability attempted to minimize school changes, but preventing out-of-home placements was prioritized. Mothers frequently reported increased child behavior problems when living in shelters and overcrowded doubled-up situations often, but mothers who obtained housing subsidies frequently reported behavior problems abating quickly once their housing was stabilized. Mothers also often reported heterogeneity in outcomes for children within the same family. Implications of these findings for future quantitative studies of housing stability and child well-being are also explored, suggesting a need for increased use of person-centered approaches.


Scott Brown

Vanderbilt University

Friday April 10, 2015 9:50am - 10:30am
Biscayne Ballroom (2nd floor)