How Do TANF Policies Support Families Experiencing Homelessness?
- HHS wants TANF programs to better identify, assess, and serve homeless families.
- Abt helped HHS understand how TANF agencies across the country are serving families.
- The project produced four policy briefs documenting how TANF agencies are using TANF funds to support families currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a key component in supporting self-sufficiency among families, including those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in recognition of the integral role TANF can play in family stability, has encouraged TANF programs to identify and implement approaches to better identify, assess, and serve homeless families. As a block grant program, TANF gives wide latitude for state and local innovation in serving eligible populations, including homeless families.
Abt Global, in partnership with MEF Associates, executed the How TANF Agencies Support Families Experiencing Homelessness project for ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. This project assisted HHS in understanding the extent to which TANF agencies across the country are serving families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. It also documented the approaches and strategies used by TANF agencies to serve these families.
The project provided a broad sense of the extent to which TANF agencies are explicitly choosing to serve and support families currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness using TANF funds. The project included:
- TANF Document Review – Conducted a systematic review of 25 state and territory TANF plans and policy documents;
- TANF Administrator Survey – Administered an online survey to learn about state and county TANF programs’ overall philosophies toward addressing family homelessness and the extent to which TANF funds, assessments, tools, additional services, and partners are used in these efforts; and
- Site visits to TANF agencies – Visited five TANF agencies to conduct interviews with TANF office staff, convene focus groups of TANF participants, observe orientation or intake sessions with clients, and interview representatives from relevant homelessness organization partners, including Continuums of Care.
The project produced four research briefs.
- TANF Funding for Housing in the Pandemic
- TANF Support for Families Experiencing Homelessness
- Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness: Strategies and Approaches for TANF Agencies
- Using TANF Funding to Provide Housing Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Approaches to Assisting Families Experiencing or At Risk of Homelessness with TANF Funds
- Assisting Families Experiencing Homelessness with TANF Funding: Findings from a Survey of TANF Administrators