The effectiveness of housing interventions and housing and service interventions on ending family homelessness: a systematic review

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2014 Sep;84(5):457-74. doi: 10.1037/ort0000020.


Family homelessness has become a growing public health problem over the last 3 decades. Despite this trend, few studies have explored the effectiveness of housing interventions and housing and service interventions. The purpose of this systematic review is to appraise and synthesize evidence on effective interventions addressing family homelessness. We searched 10 major electronic databases from 2007 to 2013. Empirical studies investigating effectiveness of housing interventions and housing and service interventions for American homeless families regardless of publication status were eligible for inclusion. Outcomes included housing status, employment, parental trauma and mental health and substance use, children's behavioral and academic status, and family reunification. Study quality was appraised using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Six studies were included in this review. Overall, there was some postintervention improvement in housing and employment, but ongoing residential and work stability were not achieved. Methodological limitations, poor reporting quality, and inconsistent definitions across outcomes hindered between-study comparisons. Substantial limitations in research underscore the insufficiency of our current knowledge base for ending homelessness. Although many families were no longer literally homeless, long-term residential stability and employment at a livable wage were not ensured. Developing and implementing evidence-based approaches for addressing homelessness are long overdue.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Family*
  • Government Programs / standards*
  • Housing / standards*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*