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Housing Instability among Current and Former Welfare Recipients

Publication Abstract

Phinney, Robin, Sheldon H. Danziger, Harold Pollack, and Kristin Seefeldt. 2007. "Housing Instability among Current and Former Welfare Recipients." American Journal of Public Health, 97(5): 832-837.

Objectives. We examined correlates of eviction and homelessness among current and former welfare recipients from 1997 to 2003 in an urban Michigan community.

Methods. Longitudinal cohort data were drawn from the Women’s Employment Study, a representative panel study of mothers who were receiving cash welfare in February 1997. We used logistic regression analysis to identify risk factors for both eviction and homelessness over the survey period.

Results. Twenty percent (95% confidence interval [CI]=16%, 23%) of respondents were evicted and 12% (95% CI=10%, 15%) experienced homelessness at least once between fall 1997 and fall 2003. Multivariate analyses indicated 2 consistent risk factors: having less than a high school education and having used illicit drugs other than marijuana. Mental and physical health problems were significantly associated with homelessness but not evictions. A multivariate screening algorithm achieved 75% sensitivity and 67% specificity in identifying individuals at risk for homelessness. A corresponding algorithm for eviction achieved 75% sensitivity and 50% specificity.

Conclusions. The high prevalence of housing instability among our respondents suggests the need to better target housing assistance and other social services to current and former welfare recipients with identifiable personal problems.

DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2005.082677 (Full Text)

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