University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Perceptions of Social Support Use: A Qualitative Study of Single Men Experiencing Chronic Homelessness

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Sophomore

Major

Social Work

Minor

Public Policy

Institution

University of Kentucky

KY House District #

88

KY Senate District #

12

Department

Social Work

Abstract

Single adult men make up much of the population experiencing homelessness; concerningly, this population is also at greater risk of chronic homelessness. Data for this presentation come from a project exploring the pathways back into homelessness for men who had secured permanent housing. This study utilized qualitative methods because the focus was to understand and describe the experiences of men who had recently lost their permanent housing and had found themselves homeless for at least a second occurrence. The purpose of this presentation is to describe participants’ perceptions of using social support to find and maintain housing. Participants were recruited from a homeless day center in Louisville, Kentucky and interviews were conducted on-site in private meeting rooms/ staff offices. In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 men (aged 42 – 71) who had experienced multiple instances of homelessness. Data (verbatim transcripts and field notes) were analyzed using adapting grounded theory methods, specifically techniques of using open and focused coding, constant comparison, and memo-writing. Codes relevant to participants’ perceptions of using social support included self-reliant, low self-esteem, us vs them, and wrong crowd.

Two main themes capture participants’ views on utilizing social support to secure housing. First, men in our study shared about having insufficient social support, both in terms of quality and quantity. Second, participants were hesitant to reach out to others for assistance in housing-related issues because of their beliefs about help-seeking which included a sense of personal responsibility/ self-reliance, concerns about being a burden, and feelings of disdain towards those dependent on supports.

Findings from this study further the knowledge on the hesitancy surrounding the use of social safety nets, possibly resulting in greater reliance on formal supports. This study illustrates the barriers that may need to be addressed to increase utilization of supports associated with fewer homeless episodes

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Perceptions of Social Support Use: A Qualitative Study of Single Men Experiencing Chronic Homelessness

Single adult men make up much of the population experiencing homelessness; concerningly, this population is also at greater risk of chronic homelessness. Data for this presentation come from a project exploring the pathways back into homelessness for men who had secured permanent housing. This study utilized qualitative methods because the focus was to understand and describe the experiences of men who had recently lost their permanent housing and had found themselves homeless for at least a second occurrence. The purpose of this presentation is to describe participants’ perceptions of using social support to find and maintain housing. Participants were recruited from a homeless day center in Louisville, Kentucky and interviews were conducted on-site in private meeting rooms/ staff offices. In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 men (aged 42 – 71) who had experienced multiple instances of homelessness. Data (verbatim transcripts and field notes) were analyzed using adapting grounded theory methods, specifically techniques of using open and focused coding, constant comparison, and memo-writing. Codes relevant to participants’ perceptions of using social support included self-reliant, low self-esteem, us vs them, and wrong crowd.

Two main themes capture participants’ views on utilizing social support to secure housing. First, men in our study shared about having insufficient social support, both in terms of quality and quantity. Second, participants were hesitant to reach out to others for assistance in housing-related issues because of their beliefs about help-seeking which included a sense of personal responsibility/ self-reliance, concerns about being a burden, and feelings of disdain towards those dependent on supports.

Findings from this study further the knowledge on the hesitancy surrounding the use of social safety nets, possibly resulting in greater reliance on formal supports. This study illustrates the barriers that may need to be addressed to increase utilization of supports associated with fewer homeless episodes