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Cityscape: Volume 19 Number 3 | International Commentary: Family Options Study Observations From the Periphery of Europe


The Family Options Study

Volume 19, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

International Commentary: Family Options Study Observations From the Periphery of Europe

Eoin O’Sullivan
Trinity College Dublin

From a European perspective—and, more specifically, an Irish perspective—the Family Options Study offers crucial insights into how policy responses to family homelessness are theoretically framed and into the efficacy of the actual services constructed to meet the perceived needs of homeless families. The study identifies two dominant ways of thinking about family homelessness. The first sees family homelessness as resulting from income insufficiency, resulting in an inability to successfully compete in tight rental housing markets; the second sees family homelessness as a consequence of both income insufficiency and a range of other personal dysfunctions. The appropriate response to preventing and ending family homelessness, if family homelessness is understood as resulting from income insufficiency, is to provide financial subsidies (short- or longterm subsidies), to bridge the gap between family income and market housing costs, or subsidized social housing. The appropriate response, if homelessness and low-incomes are both seen as resulting from individual dysfunctions, is to remedy those dysfunctions prior to the provision of a housing subsidy. The perceived wisdom is that successful treatment is best provided in supervised transitional congregate settings that address these dysfunctions and adequately prepare families for independent living through a series of therapeutic interventions.

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