The number of homeless families across the United States has nearly tripled over the past five years, and it is estimated that for every family experiencing homelessness, there are five families living in unstable housing, either doubled up with friends or family, or living in temporary hotel rooms. Families experiencing homelessness are disproportionately comprised of a single female head of household with multiple children, exhibiting multiple individual, social and structural risk factors for homelessness, including high rates of exposure to childhood maltreatment and domestic violence spanning throughout the life course. Data also reveal highly mobile and unstable residential histories among homeless families along with high rates of homelessness recidivism that manifest in numerous health issues in both parents and children. What is lesser known is the life course of families who experience housing instability prior to homelessness. To address this knowledge gap, this project aims to elicit the life experiences of 24 mothers facing imminent risk of homelessness to capture their explanations of the "how" and "why" of the trajectory leading them to housing instability. To meet this objective, the PI will engage 24 mothers at imminent risk of homelessness in Detroit in a series of one-on-one interviews. This qualitative process of data collection and analysis will provide the opportunity to: 1.) examine individual (age, education, race/ethnicity, relationship status, trauma history, mental and physical health);social (social supports, family history, current family situation, SES);and structural (labor and living conditions, social services) characteristics of mothers at risk for homelessness;2.) explore the individual, social, and structural experiences of mothers at risk for homelessness;and, 3.) determine what chain of events mothers at risk for homelessness narrate as an explanation of the trajectory leading them to housing instability. This approach draws from feminist participatory action research to underscore the experiences of women and how participants'cognitively appraise their risks and protections and the influences of past events. The PI will collect participant data at two time points;the initial meeting will occur within the first month f a woman seeking emergency housing assistance from the study site, and will include obtaining consent, completion of a demographic profile and the brief-PHQ, and an initial interview intended to gather the narrative of the woman's life in her own words. A second interview will occur approximately two weeks later, with the purpose of revisiting the narrative so that the woman can clarify details and identify the causative or life changing events she feels contributed to her trajectory of housing instability. Data analysis will consist primarily of qualitative methodologies, although descriptive statistics will characterize the demographic data and brief PHQ findings. Findings from this study will provide the foundation for primary preventive efforts aimed at uncovering and addressing the underlying pathway to family housing instability and homelessness.

Public Health Relevance

The aims of this qualitative study are to: 1) examine individual (age, education, race/ethnicity, relationship status, trauma history, mental and physical health);social (social supports, family history, current family situation, SES);and structural (labor and living conditions, social services) characteristics of mothers at risk for homelessness;2) explore the individual, social, and structural experiences of mothers at risk for homelessness;and, 3) determine what chain of events mothers at risk for homelessness narrate as an explanation of the trajectory leading them to housing instability. A sample of 24 mothers receiving emergency assistance to prevent homelessness will be enrolled and interviewed. The findings will allow the PI and others to design interventions to prevent housing instability and improve physical and mental health in this vulnerable population.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Type
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
Project #
5F31NR013809-02
Application #
8550545
Study Section
National Institute of Nursing Research Initial Review Group (NRRC)
Program Officer
Banks, David
Project Start
2012-09-01
Project End
2014-08-31
Budget Start
2013-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$36,316
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Department
None
Type
Schools of Nursing
DUNS #
073133571
City
Ann Arbor
State
MI
Country
United States
Zip Code
48109