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TANF Support for Families Experiencing Homelessness

Lauren Dunton, Cara Sierks, and Nishi Kumar, Abt Global; Asaph Glosser, MEF Associates


February 28, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which provides cash assistance to low-income families, offers states, Tribes, and local jurisdictions wide latitude to support people currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The Administration for Children and Families Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation contracted with Abt Global and its partner, MEF Associates, to study how states and localities use TANF funds to support families experiencing homelessness. The study found that:

  • Local TANF agencies often focus on helping families in response to state policy guidance.
  • TANF agencies should consider tradeoffs between operating a housing assistance program and providing funding to local organizations with more expertise.
  • Local homeless service providers, continuums of care, and public housing agencies are key partners in the effective implementation of programs that TANF funds to serve families experiencing homelessness.
  • TANF agencies should consider integrating employment services and job training with housing assistance. More consideration for how housing programs can benefit from existing TANF resources may strengthen and streamline case management efforts.
  • TANF agencies should consider braiding their funding with other public and private funding streams to amplify the ability to help families experiencing homelessness.
  • Continuums of Care should explore accessing TANF funds that offer the flexibility to support other services such as child care and transportation services that often cannot be funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs.
  • Continuums of Care can offer expertise on supporting families experiencing homelessness by providing knowledge and training to TANF staff.

Learn more about the project.