This study compares social relationships of 677 mothers in families requesting shelter with those of 495 mothers in housed families, randomly selected from the public assistance caseload in New York City. As hypothesized, women seeking shelter had experienced higher levels of a variety of childhood and adult events indicative of disruptions in social relationships. Contrary to our hypothesis, they were more likely than were housed mothers to have had recent contact with parents, other relatives, and friends, although they felt less able to draw on these resources for help with their current housing needs. More than three fourths of families seeking shelter had already stayed with members of their social network in the past year. The data suggest that they had used up potential sources of support before turning to public shelter.
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