Since 2009, Health Care for the Homeless staff, student interns and clients have undertaken research to better understand issues related to poverty and homelessness. HCH clients are experts of their own experiences. As such, their perspectives guide the research, and their efforts drive it. Together staff and clients identify issues of interest, develop research tools, conduct surveys and analyze data. The results inform our advocacy efforts. HCH’s research process helps to build community and to develop the leadership and skills necessary, not only to interpret the world, but also to change it.
For information on the research efforts of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, go to http://www.nhchc.org/Research/.
The purpose of this study was to expand knowledge on the connections among homelessness, incarceration, and re-entry. Between June 15 and July 29, 2011, 429 people were interviewed regarding housing and employment stability, and their experiences of incarceration and re-entry. All respondents had been released from jail or prison in Maryland within the last ten years; most are believed to have very low-incomes.
Two thirds (68%) were released between the hours of 8:00pm and 5:00am when most supportive services are closed. Respondents who first entered the corrections system in their youth were more likely to spend ten years or more behind bars over the course of a lifetime. Seven in 10 (71%) felt that they had never completed a “home plan” upon release. The percentage of people without stable housing doubled following incarceration – with one-third (34%) having unstable housing prior to their most recent incarceration, and two-thirds (68%) unable to access stable housing six months after release. Most citied the inability to find work and their criminal record as significant barriers to housing (57% and 56%, respectively).
When asked what factors would have most prevented their incarceration, the most common responses were employment (61%) and housing (56%). Also commonly identified was access to comprehensive health services – including substance abuse (55%), mental health (40%), and medical (34%) treatment. These self-reported connections are supported by research which showing that individuals who are able to secure employment, housing, and comprehensive health services have significantly lower rates of recidivism than those who do not.
The purpose of this study was to obtain more information related to the current and past employment histories of those experiencing homelessness in Baltimore, their current living situation, the level of involvement in training and education activities, and those industries where employment is most often secured/sought. From June to August 2011, results from a survey of 478 adults with histories of homelessness found 17% were currently employed. Of those employed, 51% have held their current job for less than one year, 56% work more than 20 hours per week, 41% earn less than $200 in an average week, and 74% would like to work more hours. Of those unemployed, 62% have been unemployed for less than three years, 48% report a lack of housing is a key challenge to obtaining work, and 60% are receiving some type of disability assistance. Of all those surveyed, 37% are not engaged in training/education activities, but 35% are actively engaged in employment search, 19% are engaged in computer training, and 17% are learning interview skills. Of those industries of present, past and sought employment, janitorial, food service, warehouse, construction and landscaping consistently ranked very high.
Policy recommendations based on these results focus on the need for more education and training programs that can re-train workers in new industries and help supplement educational attainment; employment opportunities that can remove legal and regulatory barriers to obtaining work as well as pay a living wage; a wide range of additional affordable housing; and health care services that can address both physical and behavioral health conditions that can create barriers to finding/holding employment.
The purpose of this study was to determine how Temporary Disability Assistance