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Abstracts from Volume 37, Number 4
(December, 2010)



Special Issue on Homelessness in Canada


INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL ISSUE: HOMELESSNESS IN CANADA
John R. Graham and Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff, Special Editors

PERSPECTIVES OF EMPLOYED PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS OF SELF AND BEING HOMELESS: CHALLENGING SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED PERCEPTIONS AND STEREOTYPES
Micheal L. Shier, Marion E. Jones, and John R. Graham

In a study that sought to identify the multiple factors resulting in homelessness from the perspective of 65 individuals in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who were both employed and homeless, we found that participants’ perceptions of being homeless emerged as a major theme which impacts their entry to and exit from homelessness. Four sub-themes related to these perceptions were identified: (1) perceptions of self and situation; (2) impact of being homeless on self-reflection; (3) aspects of hope to consider; and (4) perspectives on having a permanent residence. Analytically, these findings help challenge present stereotypes about homelessness and usefully inform social service delivery organizations.

THE ECONOMICS OF BEING YOUNG AND POOR: HOW HOMELESS YOUTH SURVIVE IN NEOLIBERAL TIMES
Jeff Karabanow, Jean Hughes, Jann Ticknor, Sean Kidd, and Dorothy Patterson

Based upon in-depth interviews with 34 youth in Halifax and seven service providers in St. John’s, Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary, the findings of this study suggest that labor occurs within a particular street context and street culture. Formal and informal work can be inter-related, and despite the hardships they experience, young people who are homeless or who are at-risk of homelessness can respond to their circumstances with ingenuity, resilience and hope. Often street-involved and homeless young people are straddling formal and informal work economies while mediating layers of external and internal motivations and tensions. The reality is that the participants in this study cannot very easily engage in formal work. There is a dearth of meaningful formal work available, and when living homeless there are many challenges to overcome to maintain this work. In addition, there are few employers willing to risk hiring an individual who is without stable housing, previous employment experiences and, most likely, limited formal education. Therefore, street youth are left with informal work that provides them with survival money, basic needs, and a sense of citizenship, but which also invites belittlement, harassment, and mockery.

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, INTO THE FIRE: TRAUMA IN THE LIVES OF HOMELESS YOUTH PRIOR TO AND DURING HOMELESSNESS
John Coates and Sue McKenzie-Mohr

Anecdotal evidence from those who work with homeless youth indicates that trauma permeates these young people’s lives. This paper presents the findings from a study of 100 homeless youth regarding the presence of trauma in their lives, both before and during homelessness. Participants living in the Maritime Provinces volunteered to take part in a semi-structured interview lasting one to two hours. The interview questionnaire was conducted by a trained interviewer, and was composed of standardized and adapted survey instruments, as well as questions regarding demographics, experiences prior to becoming homeless, assistance received while dealing with stressors, and current needs. The results indicate that trauma is both a cause and a consequence of youth being homeless, as a large majority of participants experienced a number of types of highly stressful events both preceding and during homelessness, and that trauma in the lives of both male and female homeless youth should be understood as a pervasive reality with serious implications. Implications for service delivery are discussed.

THE LIMITS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL: AN EXAMINATION OF IMMIGRANTS’ HOUSING CHALLENGES IN CALGARY
Alina Tanasescu and Alan Smart

A common explanation of immigrants’ under-representation among the homeless population in Canada is that kinship and community networks act as a buffer to absolute homelessness. There are indications that immigrant homelessness is, however, increasing, suggesting that the buffering capacity of social networks reaches a limit. Further, evidence of precarious housing situations indicates that we should approach this form of housing provision with some caution. This paper draws on a larger study of housing difficulties among immigrants in Calgary to address the ways in which social capital serves a buffering role, and under what conditions it loses its ability to prevent absolute homelessness.

HOUSING FOR PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS: APPROACHES, EVIDENCE, AND TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE
Geoffrey Nelson

The evolution of housing approaches for people with serious mental illness is described and analyzed. A distinction is made between three different approaches to housing: (a) custodial, (b) supportive, and (c) supported. Research evidence is reviewed that suggests the promise of supported housing, but more research is needed that compares supported housing with different supportive housing approaches. It is argued that the current move to a supported housing approach represents a fundamental shift or transformative change in mental health policy and practice. Strategies to facilitate this shift are discussed.

REPRESENTATIONS OF HOMELESSNESS IN FOUR CANADIAN NEWSPAPERS: REGULATION, CONTROL, AND SOCIAL ORDER
Barbara Schneider, Kerry Chamberlain, and Darrin Hodgetts

This article reports on a content analysis of homelessness representations in four Canadian newspapers: two city broadsheets, one city tabloid, and one national newspaper. Clear differences between the papers emerged showing that in general coverage of homelessness in Calgary was much more positive than coverage in Vancouver. It conveyed a stronger sense of crisis or urgency and a stronger sense of optimism that the problem should and can be solved. Experts dominate public discourse about homelessness, with people who experience homelessness themselves marginalized as speakers. Despite these differences, the four papers present a unified narrative of homelessness in which readers are exhorted to be sympathetic to the plight of homeless people while at the same time, ‘they’ are presented as needing to be controlled and regulated in order to maintain social order. This narrative has implications for citizenship and social inclusion of people who experience homelessness.

PROGRESSIVE HOUSING POLICY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: A CONTRARIAN VIEW
George Fallis

After years of cutbacks to housing programs in Canada, there has emerged a consensus that a progressive housing policy requires significant construction of new social housing units to address both the problems of housing affordability and homelessness. This paper argues that large scale social housing should not be the focus of progressive housing policy in the 21st century. We should use the progressive goals of the original welfare state, but we should modify the programs designed to meet these goals. The paper examines the income and personal insecurities faced by low-income households today, contrasting them with the insecurities faced in the early postwar period, and concludes that social housing is poorly suited to the problems of today. To deal with housing affordability problems, the focus should be upon employment programs, education and training, and income support, not upon new social housing. Furthermore, expansion of social housing would do little to help the homeless. The focus of progressive housing policy should be on programs to directly help the homeless. This requires a coordinated combining of housing first with social support programs: a supportive housing strategy.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Idea of Justice. Amartia Sen.
Reviewed by David G. Gil

Freefall: America, Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy.
Joseph E. Stiglitz.
Reviewed by Helen Lachs Ginsburg.

Race, Place, and Environmental Justice after Hurricane
Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright, Eds.
Reviewed by Robert Forrant.

The War on Welfare: Family, Poverty, and Politics in
Modern America.
Marisa Chappell.
Reviewed by John M. Herrick.

Formal and Informal Work: The Hidden Work Regime in Europe.
Birgit Pfau-Effinger, Lluis Flaquer and Per H. Jensen, Eds.
Reviewed by James Midgley.

Work-Life Policies. Ann C. Crouter and Alan Booth, Eds.
Reviewed by Marguerite G. Rosenthal.

The Housing Policy Revolution: Networks and Neighborhoods.
David J. Erickson. Reviewed by Corianne P. Scally.

Needed by Nobody: Homelessness and Humanness in Post-Socialist Russia. Tova Hojdestrand.
Reviewed by Sviatlana Smashnaya.

The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice. Robert Fisher, Ed.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Beck.

‘Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America. Frances Smith Foster.
Reviewed by Shannon Butler-Mokoro.

Doing Time Together: Love and Family in the Shadow of the Prison. Megan Comfort.
Reviewed by Jonah A. Siegel.

INDEX OF VOLUME XXXVII, ISSUES 1-4

 

 

 

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