Everyday heroes: investigating strengths of formerly homeless families who have found stability within their community.




Piper, Melanie

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While it is generally agreed that family homelessness is rapidly increasing, there is very little research to find out how families have exited homelessness and become stable. There is even less research to investigate the strengths that were employed by family members as they journey toward housing stability. Is it possible that this potentially dis-empowering experience can be enriched by the care and support of fellow community members and helping professionals? More importantly, can family members draw on this experience to recognize their inner strengths and move toward greater happiness and self-sufficiency? This thesis shows how families who have been displaced from their community due to an experience of homelessness can be better supported to return to a stable life. A narrative lens was used to investigate the findings from semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with three mothers. One of the main criteria was that they found and retained stable housing for at least one year. The families in question currently live in Victoria, B.C. Canada, where this research took place. Examination of participant’s narratives revealed a five-stage process in which inner strengths and outer community supports combined to assist them in moving toward their goals. Participant mothers were able to access new ways to view the situation that did not leave them feeling marginalized. They also built both material and social assets that led to greater happiness and stability. Participants were able to develop resilient behavior by drawing upon past experience for knowledge, insight and inspiration. They overcame inner and outer barriers to these strengths by communicating their needs and reaching out to family, friends or services in a more confident way.



Homeless families, Women, Housing, Victoria, B.C.