Pathways to and Duration of Homelessness Among Single Adults in Atlanta Shelters

Ibrahim Bah, Walden University


Homelessness continues to be a major, comprehensive social issue facing the United States and it is a broad concern among single adults. The purpose of this quantitative research was to investigate the pathways to and duration of homelessness among single adults (n = 10,938) in Atlanta, Georgia shelters from 2009 - 2013. Pathways theories and its analysis mapped the progress effects of individuals' abilities and structural environment that culminated into homelessness. In this study, bivariate, multiple regressions and cluster analyses were used to investigate individual factors as predicators for the duration of homelessness. All the factors, except physical disability, were associated with the duration of stay at the homeless shelters. Specifically, gender, race, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, education, employment, exit date, criminal history and public support were related to the duration of stay, while physical disability was not a significant predictor for the duration of homeless stay. Results from this study can foster positive social change by assisting policy makers and homeless shelter officials in designing policies and tailoring program services to reduce the duration of homelessness. Establishment of programs and services such as human services and religious services can target specific adult homeless groups to provide guidance and counseling to quit drugs and help them with employment to develop the needed skills to become productive members of the society. Also, the strong association between mental illness and duration of homelessness reinforces the need to institutionalize mental health to save lives. Identifying these predictors help reduce the duration of homelessness and contribute to the independence of single homeless adults.