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Improving Community Integration among Homeless-Experienced Veteran Families

Research Paper Title

Beyond housing: Understanding community integration among homeless-experienced veteran families in the United States.

Background

Community integration is important to address among homeless-experienced individuals. Little is known about helping veteran families (families with a parent who is a veteran) integrate into the community after homelessness.

The researchers sought to understand the experiences of community integration among homeless-experienced veteran families.

Methods

The researches used a two-stage, community-partnered approach.

  • First, they analysed 16 interviews with homeless-experienced veteran parents (parents who served in the military; n = 9) living in permanent housing and providers of homeless services (n = 7), conducted from February to September 2016, for themes of community integration.
  • Second, they developed a workgroup of nine homeless-experienced veteran parents living in a permanent housing facility, who met four times from December 2016 to July 2017 to further understand community integration.

They audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed the interviews and workgroups for community integration themes. For the analysis, we developed community integration categories based on interactions outside of the household and built a codebook describing each topic. The researchers used the codebook to code the individual interviews and parent workgroup sessions after concluding that the workgroup and interview topics were consistent. Findings were shared with the workgroup.

Results

The researchers describe our findings across three stages of community integration:

  1. First housed;
  2. Adjusting to housing and the community; and
  3. Housing maintenance and community integration.

The researchers found that parents tended to isolate after transitioning into permanent housing. After this, families encountered new challenges and were guarded about losing housing. One facilitator to community integration was connecting through children to other parents and community institutions (e.g. schools).

Conclusions

Although parents felt safe around other veterans, many felt judged by non-veterans. Parents and providers reported a need for resources and advocacy after obtaining housing. The researchers share implications for improving community integration among homeless-experienced veteran families, including providing resources after obtaining housing, involving schools in facilitating social connections, and combating stigma.

Reference

Ijadi-Maghsoodi, R., Moore, E.M., Feller, S., Cohenmehr, J., Ryan, G.W., Kataoka, S. & Gelberg, L. (2020) Beyond housing: Understanding community integration among homeless-experienced veteran families in the United States. Health & Social Care in the Community. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13233. Online ahead of print.

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