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Title:The association between housing insecurity and TANF participation: Investigating the role of family resources and stressors
Author(s):Bosch, Carrie R.
Director of Research:Wu, Chi-Fang
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wu, Chi-Fang
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Korr, Wynne S.; Park, Jung Min; Zhan, Min
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Housing Insecurity
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Social Welfare Policy
Abstract:Housing insecurity is a significant issue facing U.S. households, particularly for families living in poverty. A lack of affordable housing, due, in part, from soaring housing costs and stagnating wages has led a substantial number of impoverished families to experience a housing crisis. Across the U.S., 61,265 households with children were counted as homeless on a single night in 2016, a substantial underestimate of families who experience homelessness annually. Significantly more families experience other forms of housing hardships, including eviction, trouble paying housing costs, frequent moves, or doubling up due to financial need. At the same time, three out of four households that qualify for federal housing assistance on the basis of income do not receive it, leaving millions of families waiting for assistance. Clearly, this leaves a sizeable gap in the social safety net that housing-insecure families must strive to fill with other sources. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is one such resource that impoverished families can use to help secure housing and other needs. However, there is a dearth of research considering housing-insecure families’ usage of TANF. Preliminary research has provided a broad range of estimates of TANF participation rates for homeless families, ranging from less than 10 to just over 60 percent. Few studies have examined the factors that influence participation for these families, nor has previous research fully examined TANF usage among families experiencing other forms of housing insecurity. To address these gaps, this dissertation applied the Double ABCX Model of Family Adjustment and Adaptation to examine a range of family resources and stressors as mediators and moderators of TANF sanction and receipt among families who have experienced homelessness, doubling-up, and other forms of housing insecurity. This study utilized data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) to investigate the influence of social support, employment, housing assistance, childcare, parenting stress, maternal health, and depression on likelihood of TANF receipt and sanction for these housing-insecure mothers over time, compared to low-income but stably-housed mothers. The FFCWS is a comprehensive, longitudinal study of marital and non-marital births in large U.S. cities, which includes a large sample of families experiencing significant economic hardship. This dissertation used data from 2,468 mothers’ interviews collected in Waves 2, 3, and 4, corresponding with ages one, three, and five of the focus children. Multivariate linear and logistic regressions were employed to test both mediating and moderating relationships. Results indicated that families who have experienced homelessness, in particular, have significantly higher rates of TANF receipt, both two and four years following their homeless experience. Homelessness was also associated with a higher risk of TANF sanction four years later. However, other forms of housing-insecurity were not found to influence TANF receipt or sanction at either wave. Employment and the receipt of housing assistance were found to mediate the relationship between homelessness and TANF receipt, while amount of childcare and maternal health status were significant covariates. Employment steadiness, measured by the number of weeks worked in the past year, was shown to impact likelihood of TANF sanction for homeless families only, while maternal depression was a significant covariate. Discussion of these findings includes suggestions for increasing TANF participation and reducing the risk of sanction for homeless and housing-insecure families in both policy and practice. Theoretical implications and suggestions for future research are also considered.
Issue Date:2018-12-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Carrie R. Bosch
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-08
Date Deposited:2018-12

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