Our Work

The Facts About Family Homelessness

Homelessness is one of our nation’s most misunderstood and vexing social problems. Homelessness does not discriminate. Families with children, single adults, teenagers and older individuals of all races struggle with the devastating effects of homelessness.

The primary cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Over five million low-income households have serious housing problems due to high housing costs, substandard housing conditions or both. While the problem of homelessness seems daunting, we can end homelessness in our nation.

In Arlington, there are hundreds of families living in dangerously overcrowded housing. They’re moving from place to place, night after night, in a constant state of fear and mere survival. We don’t see homeless families or those threatened by violence on street corners or intersections – they are well hidden. We need your help to end domestic violence and family homelessness. Together, we can offer a safe home for those in crisis, the tools they need to rebuild their lives and a pathway to long-term, affordable housing.

Homelessness: The Facts

  • More families experience homelessness in the United States than in any other industrialized nation. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • A typical homeless family is comprised of a single mother with her two young children. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • One in 30 American children experience homelessness annually; 51% are under age five. More than 2.5 million children are homeless each year in America. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • Family homelessness is a growing social problem affecting families in every state. Nationwide, 85% of providers have seen family homelessness increasing in recent years. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, for the five-year period of 2013-2017, although the region reduced the number of individuals experiencing homelessness by four percent, families experiencing homelessness has remained a challenge for the region, increasing by 1.6 percent over the same five-year period. (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments)
  • Family homelessness, once viewed as episodic and situational, has become chronic, with families accounting for 37% of the overall homeless population and 50% of the sheltered population. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • The interrelated nature of domestic violence and homelessness is undeniable: 92% of homeless women have experiences severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives, and 63% have been victims of intimate partner violence as adults. (National Network to End Domestic Violence)
  • A domestic violence experience is common among youth, single adults and families who become homeless and for many it is the immediate cause of their homelessness. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)
  • 39% of cities cited domestic violence as the primary cause of family homelessness. (U.S. Conference of Mayors)
  • Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women and children. Among families that reported domestic violence in the prior five years, 88 percent reported that it contributed to their homelessness a lot. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)
  • More than 90% of homeless mothers report they had been physically and/or sexually abused over their lifetimes. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • In America, up to 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year. The statistics for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) homeless youth are even more shocking, as this group represents up to 40% all young people experiencing homelessness. Considering that LGBT youth represent an estimated 7% of the total youth population, these numbers are disproportionately high. (The True Colors Fund)
  • One in four renters spends more than half their income on housing. Almost half pay over 30% of their incomes on rent. (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies)
  • In Arlington County, a community member would need to work 4.8 full-time jobs (192 hours per week) at minimum wage to afford a 2-bedroom at Fair Market Rent. (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
  • Housing is essential to ending homelessness, but it is not sufficient. Families need basic supports beyond decent affordable housing to thrive: food, education, employment, child care, transportation, health and mental health care, trauma-informed care, and children’s services. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • More than 90% of providers agree that services are necessary for families to remain stably housed, and that services need to be provided as soon as families become homeless and continue after they are permanently housed. (The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth)
  • Beyond addressing their immediate safety and housing needs, survivors of domestic violence require supportive services that can help them heal from the trauma of abuse and improve their economic security and well-being. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Children and Homelessness

1 in 30 American children experience homelessness. They live with or without their families, in shelters, cars and abandoned buildings. Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, accounting for almost 40-50% of the nation’s homeless. Lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness in families; often one or both parents are working, but not making a livable wage. Additionally, events such as illness, unemployment, accidents and violence limit the ability to secure stable housing and affordable housing. Learn more about the impact of homelessness on children.

Family Homelessness Resources

We create pathways out of homelessness leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. Learn more about family homelessness resources in our community.

Attend a Tour to Learn More

Doorways offers tours of our Freddie Mac Foundation Family Home that provide additional insight into the family homelessness as well as domestic and sexual violence and our approach to addressing these issues. Sign up to join us and learn more on a tour!