Coping With Stressors and General Resistance Resources Used by Individuals Experiencing Homelessness in Minneapolis Tent Camps

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International Journal on Homelessness


Homelessness remains a significant public health issue across the United States, particularly in urban areas. Individuals become and remain homeless for multifaceted and complex reasons that are linked to well-being. The aim of this study was to understand the well-being of persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) and living in tent camps using Aaron Antonovsky’s salutogenic model of health (SMH). To address well-being, we conducted a basic qualitative study with thirty adults over age 18 who self-identified as homeless and living in tent camps within the city of Minneapolis. With a semi-structured interview guide that centered on the SMH, we analyzed data using Johnny Saldaña’s qualitative coding method. Sources of stress themes, including (1) “family trauma” (depression/trauma related to the death of a loved one and drugs, imprisonment, and abuse), (2) “mental health” (depression/trauma related to the death of a loved one, loneliness living in tent camps, substance use, mental illness), and (3) “change and threats” (constant fear of aggression, lack of stability of the tent camp, bad people causing problems, cliques in the camp). Themes of general resistance (GRRs) resources (coping with stress), or GRRs emerged, including (1) “systems knowledge,” (2) “coping strategies,” (3) “sense of community,” (4) “camp stability,” and (5) “human dignity” emerged during data collection and analysis. These findings can inform policy decisions related to increasing services to exit homelessness, funding for sustainable tent camps, and sweeps of tent camps in the city of Minneapolis and beyond.