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Across the United States, more than 2.65 million children live in grandfamilies — families in which grandparents, other adult family members or close family friends are raising children – with no parents in the home. Frequently, these families come together at a moment’s notice. In an instant, the home of the new grandfamily is inadequate for their suddenly expanded household.
A new report from Generations United, A Place to Call Home: Building Affordable Housing for Grandfamilies, found less than one in three eligible grandfamilies receive housing assistance and details the housing challenges these families face.
The barriers to receiving housing assistance noted in the report include housing providers not recognizing grandfamilies as “families” making them ineligible for assistance, and many child welfare systems’ frequent failure to license relatives as foster parents so they can receive adequate financial assistance or help them access housing.
In response to these challenges, there are at least 19 specialized grandfamilies housing programs across the US with the potential for nationwide expansion. These programs share common features including on-site services for families, special design features for both caregivers and children, and a community of peers that can support one another.
The report highlights these and other existing housing solutions and recommendations to help support grandfamilies including:
- Urge the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Interior and the Treasury to provide clear written guidance to remove barriers to local housing assistance for grandfamilies.
- Create a comprehensive toolkit for developing grandfamilies housing to support additional program development.
- Address unnecessary housing barriers for relatives to become licensed foster parents.
- Fund and establish a National Grandfamilies Technical Assistance Center.
- Ensure that kinship navigators around the country are partnering with local housing actors and specialized grandfamily-housing.
- Support tribes in addressing their housing challenges.