How Permanent Housing Fuels Family Success

Jul 8, 2024 | Blog

Summer has arrived! During the first half of the year, The Family Collective has been busy (as always!) amplifying the mission of United Way, building strategic partnerships, and acting as a catalyst for systems change. Within our team and community partnerships, permanent housing is an increasingly important initiative, as it serves as a cornerstone for families to foster health, education, and upward economic mobility. The Family Collective pulls together 30 funded partners across a five-county area to help families move out of a crisis situation and stabilize their housing.

We focus on permanent housing as an essential steppingstone for children and their families to thrive. “It is imperative that we understand the interdependence of housing goals with social, health, and economic outcomes,” says Rod DeVore, our director of 2-Gen Initiatives.

To truly grasp the significance of permanent housing, we must consider what is at stake when children—the future of our community—lack this critical support.

Health outcomes:

  • The impact of not having a home can be detrimental to children in many ways. Children living in stable homes have better physical and mental health outcomes, higher educational achievements, are at lower risk of hospitalization, and are less likely to experience other economic hardships. Housing forges an essential environment where children can grow into healthy, productive young adults.
  • Infants who experience homelessness are at higher risk of health conditions such as respiratory infections or allergies than their housed peers, according to a 2019 study published in Health Affairs. In addition to these ails, toddlers and small children experiencing homelessness also become more prone to injuries, nutritional problems, and asthma than kids who live in stable homes.

Early brain development:

  • Toxic stress caused by homelessness can disrupt young children’s early brain development. Current research suggests that “50% of homeless children under the age of four have developmental delays, which is three to four times higher than that of children who do not experience homelessness,” according to the National League of Cities. This underscores why The Family Collective focuses so heavily on preventing homelessness whenever possible and moving families to housing as quickly as possible.

Economic mobility:

  • In 2022, the average survival budget for a Tennessee family of four was $75,612, yet the Federal Poverty Level was only $27,750. With 62% of households being rent-burdened and another 35% extremely rent-burdened, many families find themselves unable to afford basic necessities, leading to housing instability and, ultimately, homelessness. The disparity between income and living expenses creates a precarious situation for countless families in our community. One key aspect that distinguishes The Family Collective from other initiatives is to not shy away from helping people who have already lost their homes.

“It takes only one crisis, such as a car breaking down or a medical emergency resulting in the loss of a job or significant increase in health care costs, for a family to fall behind with their rent and face eviction,” Rod says. Therefore, The Family Collective goes one step further, assisting families not only with Rapid Rehousing programs but also with ongoing wrap-around services that can lead to stability. This includes linking them to education, jobs, health, mental health, and other needed community services. The goal is to assist parents and children in a holistic manner.


“It takes only one crisis, such as a car breaking down or a medical emergency resulting in the loss of a job or significant increase in health care costs, for a family to fall behind with their rent and face eviction.”


As we continue to navigate the challenges of housing affordability in our region, our commitment to holistic support remains unwavering, aiming to create lasting change in our community. Together, we can build a foundation for success that empowers every family to live in permanent homes and achieve their full potential.




> ALICE Report 2024, United Ways of Tennessee

> Healthaffairs.com: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00090

> National League of Cities: https://www.nlc.org/article/2024/01/30/how-does-homelessness-impact-child-health-and-developmental-outcomes/