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Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Mark Starik


As the number of homeless people in the United States continues to grow, it is apparent that the current strategies are not meeting expectations and need to be reevaluated. Studies by industry experts highlighted the need to address the impact of social integration on long-term housing sustainability. The purpose of the qualitative study was to understand from the perspective of housed, formerly, homeless individuals, how socially focused interventions could influence their sense of community and increase their social integration. Durkheim’s social theory and McMillan and Chavis’ psychological sense of community (PSOC) framework were used to guide the qualitative, phenomenological approach in defining the social need for affiliation. Data was gathered by interviewing 15 formerly homeless participants who had been housed between 24 and 60 months through a Housing First program. The participants were asked a series of question that addressed the primary research question: How does socially focused interventions influence your sense of community and social integration. Creswell’s data analysis approach was used to analyze the data and identify trends and emerging themes. The results indicated a low sense of community that correlated to the emerging themes. The themes evolved into the 3 pillars of sustainability to produce a new lens for addressing homelessness. The 3 pillars focused on outcomes related to increasing housing opportunities, self-sufficiency, and engaging communities. The social impact will be far reaching as this new lens will educate the homeless industry service providers on the value of aligning housing with social integration.