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Homeless. KNR 365. Definition. People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided .

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KNR 365


  • People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided.

  • People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing.

  • People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.


  • Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.

    • HUD, 2012


  • Emergency housing

    • Soup kitchens

  • Transitional housing

  • Permanent supportive housing

    • Section 8 vouchers

  • VA

    • Domiciliary


  • 65% in emergency shelter or transitional housing

  • 35% unsheltered (living under a bridge, in cars, in abandoned buildings, etc.)

  • 85% of people who are chronically homeless are male

    • US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 2013

  • $348 is average monthly income

  • 44% work at least part time

  • 66% problems with alcohol, drugs, or mental illness

  • 46% chronic health conditions (e.g. high BP, diabetes, etc)

  • 44% single men

  • 13% single women

  • 36% families with children

  • 40% veterans

    • National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

  • Statistics1

    • Fastest growing = women & children

      • Often more children than women

    • Decrease in homeless veterans

      • 60% in emergency and transitional shelter

      • 40% unscheltered

    Women who are homeless leisure and affiliation


    Sandra Wolf Klitzing, Ph.D., CTRS

    Illinois State University


    • Homelessness has been a problem in the United States since the 1980s

    • By 1990, women accounted for ½ of the homeless population

    • Limited research in leisure studies on homelessness, especially women who are homeless


    • Homelessness is defined as the lack of adequate shelter and disaffiliation

    • Disaffiliation, or the absence of affiliative bonds to family and community, distinguishes the homeless from those who simply lack a place to live, such as migrant workers or people who lose their homes due to natural disasters.

      • Grunberg & Eagle, 1990


    • Adverse effects such as eviction, loss of a job, divorce, discharge from an institution, etc. can dislodge a person from housing and weaken social networks

    • Disaffiliation could be as detrimental as loss of food and shelter

      • Grigsby, Bauman, Gregovich, & Roberts-Gray, 1990

    Challenge to disaffiliation
    Challenge to Disaffiliation

    • Overwhelming preoccupation with pathology and disaffiliation

    • Little information on how people who are homeless

      • Live their lives

      • Make meaning of their lives

      • How they spend their time

      • With whom they spend their time

        • Koegel, 1992

    Research questions
    Research Questions

    • Are women who live in a transitional homeless shelter disaffiliated from their community and social networks?

    • What role might leisure play in maintaining affiliation?

      • Present study is part of a larger research project


    • Symbolic interactionism

    • Feminist standpoint theory

      • Enables researcher to see things that may have been invisible about a specific group, and about dominant discourses and theories

      • Everyday lives and experiences should be the starting place for research


    • Semi-structured interviews

    • 10 women who lived in a transitional shelter

    • Follow-up interviews with 4 women

    • Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed

    • Researcher journal (observations, agency documents, informal conversations)

    • Analyzed with QSR NUD*IST and constant comparison

    The women
    The Women

    • 5 African American & 5 European American

    • 6 with children & 4 single

    • 19-52 years (5 = 20s)

    • Length of stay: 2 weeks to 17 months

    • 7 first stay in a shelter

    • 8 employed

    • 3 with disabilities, 2 with health problems

    Leisure with family
    Leisure with Family

    • 8 with family (parents, sister, cousins, godparents, etc.)

      • Often included women’s children

      • 1 married with good relationship

    • 2 not with family

      • European American

      • Estranged from family or parents dead

      • Diagnosed or thought to have a mental illness

    Leisure with family yes
    Leisure with Family (Yes)

    • This was 2 weekends ago…I took them [children] out to eat and we went to Skate Land. I can’t skate. They were skating around. [Laugh] I was trying to skate. “Momma put on skates.” I put on skates and we had a good time. We go to the park when I have free time.

      • Dana, 24, African American, 5 children

    Leisure with family yes1
    Leisure with Family (Yes)

    • Well, since the weather is getting better I know we will be doing a lot of cookouts. That’s what we did last summer. We had lots of cookouts and taking the kids to the park.

      • Hazel, 35, European American, 2 children with her and 3 with ex-husband

    Leisure with friends
    Leisure with Friends

    • 6 with friends

      • Ordinary leisure activities

    • 4 not have friends outside shelter

      • 3 were single, no children, or adult child

      • 1 had boyfriend & his family recently move out of state

      • 2 had mental illness

        • Both described themselves as “loners”

    Leisure with friends yes
    Leisure with Friends (Yes)

    • Me and [friend] sometimes will have a couple of drinks. We go out and rent movies a lot. We will watch movies. Listen to the radio. Cook and stuff. Go out and do a lot of things like stuff she has to get done. We go out to eat and stuff.

      • Faith, 23, European American, child with Faith’s mother

    Leisure with friends no
    Leisure with Friends (No)

    • I just – the only friends I have are people here. The only people I talk to are the people here. I just don’t have contact with anybody else. I have always just kept a distance from people because of the things I have been through in my life [and] I am socially shy.

      • Gay, 24, European American, pregnant

    Leisure with women in the shelter
    Leisure with Women in the Shelter

    • 8 with other women

      • All 4 women classified as single established friendships in the shelter

    • 2 not with other women

      • Married woman

      • 35 y/o European American woman who originally came from a small town

    Leisure with women in the shelter yes
    Leisure with Women in the Shelter (Yes)

    • Yeah, we do a lot of things. Like on Sundays before everybody started working we always just ran around here. We usually just cook up a big dinner for both houses. Go out and buy some food and cook up a big dinner on Sunday. Me and Ilana, we ride around- she got a car. We ride around in her car when neither of us is working. We ride around in her car doing nothing…just ride and listen to music.

      • Dana, 24, African American, 5 children

    Leisure with women in the shelter yes1
    Leisure with Women in the Shelter (Yes)

    • Well, like one of my - me and roommates – now on a weekend if I am off we will hang out. We will go to lunch or we will go shopping you know. Right now our work schedules haven’t matched. It’s been a couple weeks. But when we get a day together when she is not working and I am not at work this is what we do – we will go somewhere to eat and to the store. She likes clothes. I like to look at clothes.

      • Bess, 47, African American, 1 adult son

    Leisure with women in the shelter no
    Leisure with Women in the Shelter (No)

    • I try to you know – I try to be around people that I really know. I mean I don’t have no problem like mingling or getting to know people but I just like to be around people I know…because I mean to me it’s like more comfortable. I mean it’s like I couldn’t sit downstairs and talk to the young ladies down there because I probably could – they probably couldn’t relate to what I am talking about.

      • Adrenna, 27, African American, 5 children

    Social connections in leisure
    Social Connections in Leisure

    • 4 with family, friends, and other women in shelter

    • 2 with family and friends

    • 2 with family and women in shelter

    • 2 only with other women in shelter

      • European American

      • No children

      • Mental illness

    Community connections in leisure
    Community Connections in Leisure

    • 9 activities in the community

      • Parks, stores, restaurants, skating rink, friend’s house, etc.

    • 1 minimally involved

      • European American

      • Estranged from family

      • No children

      • Mental illness

    Discussion implications

    • Disaffiliated from social network?

    • Disaffiliated from community?

      • Not necessarily

      • Most disaffiliated were 2 women with mental illness

    • What role did leisure play?

      • All women interacted with others through leisure activities

      • Leisure was part of community involvement

    Discussion implications1

    • Previous studies had mixed results

      • Looked at personal support as measure of affiliation

      • Personal support was considered to be housing, money, childcare, etc.

      • May need to look at supports that add to quality of life or other forms of coping/enjoyment

    Discussion implications2

    • Previous studies looked at women who were homeless in general

      • Need to expand studies beyond “generic” woman who is homeless

      • Women with mental illness may be most disaffiliated

      • Women with mental illness may need specific support or services to become or remain affiliated with community & to have support networks

    Discussion implications3

    • Need to look at context of homelessness

      • This study looked at women in transitional shelter

      • Maybe different if women live in emergency shelters or on the streets

    • More research is needed