Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Research on how homeless individuals perceive shelters, housing programs, and their agents has been limited, especially in relation to the reasons for engaging in or avoiding programs. This phenomenological study explored the perspectives of chronically homeless individuals in Wake County, North Carolina, regarding shelters and housing programs, examining their reasons for using or not using shelters or public housing. Using Glidden's structuration theory as the framework, the research questions for this study were based on exploring the perceptions of homeless individuals use of public resources related to housing and shelters to better understand why some use, and perhaps more importantly, why some choose to not use these resources. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 12 chronically homeless men and women and data were collected through semi-structured interviews. Data were both deductively and inductively coded and analyzed using a thematic analysis procedure. This study found that the persistence of homelessness is a result of a combination of homeless individuals' perceptions of housing programs' structural failures including long waiting periods for access to housing, unnecessary bureaucratic entanglements, and what they perceived as inaction or apathy on the part of program staff in response to requests for assistance. These findings are consistent with structuration theory. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to policy makers to consider the views and perceptions of homeless people in designing programs, including ways to improve access to public resources that may ultimately lead to permanent housing for homeless individuals.