American University
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Walking the Line: Understanding How Low-Income Families Combine Assistance from the Public and Private Safety Net in the United States.

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:07 authored by Elizabeth A. Crowe

This study investigates how low-income families combine public assistance from government programs and private assistance from community based non-profit organizations (CBOs), family, and friends. The expanded definition of the safety net presented in this project provides a more comprehensive framework for researchers to examine the sources of assistance available to low-income families and how families access this assistance. This project relies on responses to previously under-examined questions in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) that ask families about receipt of food, clothing, housing, and cash assistance. It provides quantitative evidence that government programs are not the only point-of-contact to the safety net for low-income families. Families can and do access assistance from CBOs at a significant rate and families combine assistance from government programs and CBOs to meet basic needs.



American University


Degree awarded: Ph.D. Public Administration and Policy. American University


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American University. School of Public Policy

Degree level

  • Doctoral

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