Case Study of a Program Serving Families Who Are Homeless: `Ohana Nui – Family Assessment Centers

Case Study of a Program Serving Families Who Are Homeless: `Ohana Nui – Family Assessment Centers

Published: Sep 02, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica and MEF Associates
Associated Project

State Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Case Studies

Time frame: 2018-2021

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Akanksha Jayanthi

Asaph Glosser

Key Findings
  • The FACs’ main approach to serving people with low incomes is to provide transitional housing and supports.
  • The FACs’ primary services include intensive case management to help participants (1) obtain necessary personal documents to apply for public benefits, jobs, and housing; (2) apply for benefits and medical coverage; and (3) search for jobs and housing. Other on-site services, such as food banks, child care programs, and mobile health clinics, support families navigating their next steps to secure housing and work.
  • Promising practices include providing safe temporary housing before addressing families’ other needs; integrating services on-site to support families; and actively and deeply engaging and interacting with families.

This case study describes the Family Assessment Centers (FACs), which provide emergency shelters for families experiencing homelessness in Honolulu, Hawai`i. The FACs were one of the first initiatives under the `Ohana Nui service delivery framework, which is used across the Hawai`i Department of Human Services (DHS) and focused on supporting multigenerational families. FAC staff work closely with families to help them apply for public benefits, increase their income, and engage in a housing search, while also bringing other services on-site so participants can access them easily. The goal of the FACs is to move participants to permanent housing within 90 days. Catholic Charities Hawai`i—a private charity—has run the FACs in Honolulu City and County: Kaka`ako in Honolulu and the Villages of Ma`ili (VOM) in Waianae.

This case study is part of the State TANF Case Studies project, which is designed to expand the knowledge base on innovative approaches to help people with low incomes, including TANF recipients, prepare for and engage in work and increase their overall stability. Mathematica and its subcontractor, MEF Associates, were contracted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop descriptive case studies of nine innovative state and local programs. The programs were chosen through a scan of the field and discussions with stakeholders. TANF practitioners and staff of other programs can learn about innovative practices through the case studies. The studies also can expand policymakers’ and researchers’ understanding of programs that support people’s success in work and highlight innovative practices to explore in future research.

Follow the Evidence

Interested in the most current findings from Mathematica? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter, Evidence & Insights, to stay up to date with the issues that matter to you.

Sign Me Up