Cityscape special edition: The Family Options Study

A recent issue of Cityscape features a “Symposium,” or edited selection of articles, on the Family Options Study – an experimental study that tested the effectiveness of housing and services interventions by following 2,282 families staying in emergency shelters in 12 cities. Each family that participated in the study was randomly assigned to one of four housing and services intervention groups. Analysis of follow-up data collected over a 37-month period provides strong evidence of the effectiveness of long-term rent subsidies in reducing homelessness, housing instability, and crowding.

In the course of collecting information to inform the study’s primary research question—What types of housing and services interventions work best for homeless families?—the study team built a rich repository of data that can be “mined” by researchers to answer other questions. Articles in the special edition assess the connections between housing interventions and food insecurity using indicators of self-sufficiency collected throughout the Study, and examine the incidence of intimate partner violence following various housing interventions using self-reported data from Study participants. Other topics addressed in this issue include child and family well-being, families’ experiences doubling up after homelessness, and the use of Housing Choice Vouchers among families experiencing homelessness.

The Cityscape special edition was edited by Center expert Michelle Wood, who served as project director of the Study, and Anne Fletcher of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and includes articles co-authored by other Center experts including Daniel Gubits, Marybeth Shinn, and Jill Khadduri.

Additional research findings using Family Options Study data can be found on this website:


April 2018