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Policy & Research INSIGHTS

Policy & Research INSIGHTS

A research-driven blog on child and family homelessness.

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Workforce Act Reauthorization Improves Employment Services for Homeless Jobseekers
by Alyson Silkowski

Homeless parents struggle to find and maintain employment. Due in part to low levels of education and lack of job skills or work history, three-quarters (75%) of all adults who exited homelessness programs in 2011, including transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and rental assistance, were unemployed (see Figure 1). Compared with 18% of all mothers nationwide, studies estimate that 39–65% of homeless mothers lack a high school diploma or an equivalency degree.[i] Connecting homeless parents to employment training and support is critical to help these families gain self-sufficiency and financial security.

Today's Other Half
by Katie Linek

This April 28, 2014, Ethan Sribnick, ICPH senior research associate and co-author of The Poor Among Us: A History of Family Poverty and Homelessness in New York City, will participate in a panel discussion about poverty past and present at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. How the Other Half Lives, Past and Present is part of the museum’s Tenement Talks program, a free evening series of lectures, readings, panel discussions, films and other programs that provide historical and contemporary perspectives on New York City’s rich culture. For the Tenement Museum’s blog, ICPH decided to take a look at journalistic coverage of poverty throughout history, and its ability to prompt social change.

Primary Stakeholders' Perspectives on Services for Families Without Homes
by Matthew Adams

ICPH contributed a chapter to a new book Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness: Current Practices and Future Directions. The book begins by discussing the effects of homelessness from infancy to adulthood, then addresses strengths-based and culturally competent services for homeless families with children, and ends with highlighting proven solutions and best practices toward ending family homelessness.
ICPH provided the final chapter, which presents the perspectives of 12 stakeholders on the current state of family homelessness. The first half of the chapter relates the effects of homelessness that inhibit parents’ ability to provide adequate care for their children. The second half of the chapter focuses on the federal policies that positively and negatively impact homeless parents and their children.
Read a draft of the chapter “Primary Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Services for Families Without Homes” here. Edited by Mary E. Haskett, Staci Perlman, and Beryl Ann Cowan, this volume may be purchased online at Springer’s website.

Poverty and the History of Paid Employment for Women
by Ethan G. Sribnick

In the winter of 1814, as the War of 1812 caused poverty and dislocation within New York, some of the city’s charity leaders organized a house of industry to put poor but “honest” women to work. The idea was that employing women in manufacturing would provide a secure footing for them to support themselves and their families. The crafts chosen were intended to be familiar—tailoring, sewing, spinning, and knitting—skills that women might have learned as part of their domestic training. Interestingly, in this new industrial environment, women—especially mothers— did not see a clear distinction between work and home. One woman brought her young children to the house of industry with her. A young widow spun with her baby on her lap. Unfortunately, the house of industry failed to lift women out of poverty. The charity’s market-rate wages were hardly enough to support a family. Ineffective and unable to compete with for-profit producers, the institution was abandoned in 1820. 

The Great Migration and Black Urban Poverty
by Ethan G. Sribnick

Arriving in the great metropolis of New York on April 15, 1945, George Starling was immediately overwhelmed. Only 24 hours earlier Starling had left central Florida, where he was born and raised, and in one train ride escaped the oppression of Jim Crow and the exploitation he had known as a worker on citrus farms. But now he couldn’t remember the address or phone number of the aunt he had come to stay with in this big city. Luckily, Starling made his way to a friend’s apartment in Harlem, the only address he could recall. After he had a relaxing bath, the aunt’s address came to him, and he set off to begin a new life in New York.

State of the Union Promotes “Opportunity for All”: What Must be Done to Ensure that Homeless Families are Included?
by Alyson Silkowski

One of the refrains in President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night was the desire to ensure “opportunity for all,” to make our country a place where everyone can get ahead through hard work. (Read the speech here.) The president laid out a series of domestic-policy priorities designed to help families do just that, including raising the minimum wage and investing in job training institutes. In addition, and for the second consecutive year, President Obama emphasized his commitment to expanding access to high-quality early childhood education, calling it “one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life.”

One Statistic Is All It Took
by Craig Blankenhorn

There are 1.6 million homeless children in the United States.

Homelessness Is About More Than Numbers
by Nikki Johnson-Huston

My name is Nikki Johnson-Huston. I am an attorney in Philadelphia and an unlikely success story. I was born into poverty, was homeless by age nine, flunked out of college at 18, and was a law school graduate by 30. But this story is not just about me: it’s also about my brother, Michael, who died in 2010 after hanging himself in court-ordered rehab. Michael, who had just turned 34 at the time of his death, was addicted to meth and infected with HIV. He was homeless at the age of seven and at numerous other times throughout the rest of his life. But all of these things don’t tell you who Michael Johnson really was.

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