University of Maryland’s Dr. Samuel B. Little Prioritizes Homeless Families

image003Samuel B. Little, PhD, is Assistant Dean and Director of Field Education at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore. He manages the functions of field education for more than 900 students in the MSW program. Students are placed at 23 agencies that assist homeless families in the Baltimore-Washington region. These field placements allow interns to have a role in providing housing assistance, job placement, health intervention, behavioral health treatment, inter-agency collaboration, advocacy and research. Dr. Little’s goal in 2016 is to significantly expand opportunities for MSW interns to work with homeless families.

During his tenure as an executive at the housing authority in Baltimore, District of Columbia, and Philadelphia, Dr. Little was a pivotal leader with municipal agencies, local shelters, and community-based programs helping homeless families access affordable housing. In this role, he placed equal emphasis on homelessness prevention and intervention. Recognizing the difficulties faced by children and adolescents, Dr. Little leveraged innovative partnerships with foundations, redevelopment agencies, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). He was instrumental in developing a comprehensive plan to end homelessness in several cities.

In addition to his work at the School of Social Work, Dr. Little is the Founding President of the National Alliance of Resident Services in Affordable and Assisted Housing (NAR-SAAH), a national membership organization for public housing professionals, resident council leaders, and service providers. NAR-SAAH advocates for supportive housing, provides technical assistance to prevent eviction, and promotes self-sufficiency for homeless families. It is the largest national resident organization in the country and has successfully sponsored a national resident leaders’ conference for the past thirteen consecutive years, bringing attention to the conditions of public housing for families, the needs of homeless persons, and a prescribed public policy direction.

At present, Dr. Little is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the doctoral program at Howard University’s School of Social Work in Washington, DC.

Like this post?
Check out this one on Dr. Arturo Baiocchi’s (California State University, Sacramento), community needs assessment in Sacramento’s River District.

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The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Launches New Resource for Responding to Family Homelessness

Many communities are faced with high or increasing numbers of homeless families, which can stress service systems that do not have adequate family-oriented supports and services in place. Addressing the needs of homeless families requires a comprehensive service system that can identify and respond to multiple and complex needs. For example, in a previous post, we featured a recent study that highlighted the high rate of trauma among homeless mothers and the relationship between trauma symptom severity and long-term housing instability.

The federal government’s strategy to prevent and end homelessness includes the goal of ending family homelessness by 2020. In an effort to support this goal, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently launched an interactive resource to help communities better address and prevent family homelessness.

Family Connection lays out four strategic areas of action for this mission:

  1. Developing a centralized or coordinated entry system;
  2. Using interventions that are tailored to meet the needs of homeless families;
  3. Connecting families to mainstream benefits and resources;
  4. Developing and improving evidence-based practices for families experiencing homelessness or at-risk of becoming homeless.

The website provides links to information to support the pursuit of each action area, and USICH plans to continue developing this resource so that it can be used by stakeholders as they address family homelessness in their community.

In addition to the website, USICH also hosted a webinar that introduces Family Connection.

Blog Post Author: Amanda Aykanian, Research and Project Lead at the National Center

The National Center Supports the Dissemination of Findings from a Study of Homeless Families in Upstate New York

file0001265520610A recent study of families entering homeless shelters, transitional housing, and supportive housing programs highlighted that a history of trauma is nearly universal among homeless mothers, and presents a challenge for establishing long-term housing stability. The SHIFT Study, conducted in partnership by the Wilson Foundation and the National Center on Family Homelessness, followed 292 families from 48 housing programs in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, for a total of 30 months. Major findings include:

  • 93% of the mothers had experienced at least one trauma and 81% had experienced more than one.
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among mothers were also common; 79% had experienced at least one ACE and 56% had experienced more than one.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and symptoms of major depression were common.
  • Poor child outcomes were predicted by maternal depression.
  • Residential instability at 15-months was predicted by being unemployed, lower education, poor health, and low self-esteem.
  • At 30 months, residential instability was only predicted by low self-esteem and high rates of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

While previous research has documented the high rate of trauma among homeless mothers, the SHIFT Study is the first to show that trauma symptom severity can contribute to long-term housing instability.

To disseminate the findings, the Wilson Foundation held roundtable meetings in each of the four New York communities included in the study. The meetings featured a review of the study’s major findings and a discussion of how to increase and strengthen trauma-informed care within the local service system, and how improve the system’s response to the housing and health needs of homeless mothers and their children.

The National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services co-hosted the Albany roundtable on June 10th, along with the study authors and CARES, Inc. The event was attended by roughly 50 people from the area’s social service agencies and a small number of local community members. Following the event, the Times Union Newspaper wrote an article on homeless children and families in the Capital Region.

To learn more about the SHIFT Study, you can read the final report here.

Blog Post Author: Amanda Aykanian, Research and Project Lead at the National Center