Title

How homeless families function: Based on the perceptions of heads-of-families

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Sociology, Theory and Methods|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

There has been a significant increase in the number of "new homeless families" in the U.S. since the early 1980s. Homelessness has an adverse effect on homeless families' ability to function adequately in their efforts to ensure the well-being of their family members. Due to the reciprocal relationship that exists between society and families that experience the devastating effects of homelessness, society is affected by the social problems that are created when families are unable to ensure the well-being of their family members. The grounded theory methodological procedures and techniques were used to conduct the current exploratory research with a sample of twelve parents who were homeless heads-of-families living in a transitional housing environment. The aim of the research was to examine the experiences and needs of the families within the context of their homelessness; the problems and challenges they encountered in their ecological environmental settings; and how the parents functioned in their efforts to ensure the wellbeing of their family members. A substantive theory was constructed from the data derived from semi-structured interviews with the parents that explains the subjective experiences and needs of the families, and how the parents functioned in their environmental settings, relative to the problems and challenges they encountered. The parents identified employment, child care, and housing as their most important needs. They experienced limited success in their efforts to achieve employment and housing goals, which was largely attributed to the scarcity of resources. However, the findings provided considerable insight into the strategies the parents used in their efforts to achieve their goals. The most significant aspects of their strategies were their efforts to maintain collaborative relationships with their case managers, community agencies and other stakeholders. The parents made a tremendous amount of efforts to achieve their goals, with varying degrees of success. The findings indicated the parents were functioning very well in their parenting roles, and included are some of the techniques they used in the performance of their parenting roles. ^