Social Support of Homeless and Housed Mothers: A Comparison of Temporary and Permanent Housing Arrangements

This study compared the social support of 115 low-income housed mothers and 92 homeless mothers residing in emergency shelters (n = 31), transitional housing units (n = 44), and doubled-up arrangements (n = 17). All mothers had a preschool child in the Head Start program and the majority of the sample was African American. Results revealed that homeless mothers in emergency-shelters and transitional-housing had significantly less contact with friends and relatives, could count on fewer people in times of need, and received less help from their families over a six-month period than housed mothers. Findings suggest that family service workers should devise strategies to help homeless families access and mobilize existing familial supports and develop new social support networks. Additional implications for policy development and practice are discussed.

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Family Relations