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The Experiences of Families Who Are Homeless: A Qualitative Study

1. Introduction

Horizon House is a non-profit organization that has been operating in the city of Philadelphia for over 50 years. The organization’s mission is to “assist families and individuals who have lost their permanent housing and are committed to working toward self-sufficiency” (Horizon House, n.d.). Horizon House provides a variety of services to its clients, including case management, counseling, financial assistance, job training, and temporary housing.

I had the opportunity to complete an externship with Horizon House during the summer of 2019. I was placed in the family shelter, which provides temporary housing for families who are homeless. My duties included leading activities for the children living in the shelter, preparing meals, and conducting intake interviews with new clients. Through this experience, I was able to gain a better understanding of the challenges that families experience when they are homeless.

2. Literature Review

There is a growing body of research on family homelessness, which has demonstrated the significant challenges that families face when they are homeless (Baker & Wylie, 2008; Culhane et al., 2002; Dombrowski et al., 2005; Everett et al., 2006; Hulsey et al., 2006). Families who are homeless often report experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, as well as physical and mental health problems (Baker & Wylie, 2008; Culhane et al., 2002). In addition, families who are homeless often have difficulty accessing basic necessities like food and clothing (Everett et al., 2006).

The literature on family homelessness has also shown that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of homelessness (Dombrowski et al., 2005; Hulsey et al., 2006). Children who are homeless often have difficulty succeeding in school and experience more behavioral problems than their peers who are not homeless (Dombrowski et al., 2005; Hulsey et al., 2006). In addition, children who are homeless are at increased risk for developing physical and mental health problems (Hulsey et al., 2006).

3. Methods

For this paper, I will be using a qualitative methodology to explore the experiences of families who are homeless. I will be conducting semi-structured interviews with six families who are currently living in the family shelter at Horizon House. The interviews will last approximately one hour each and will be conducted in person at Horizon House. I will be asking the participants about their experiences with homelessness, as well as their experiences with the services provided by Horizon House. I will also be asking about their thoughts on the future and their plans for leaving homelessness behind.

4. Results

The results of the interviews will be presented in this section. All of the participants reported experiencing significant challenges while they were homeless. These challenges included difficulty finding employment, difficulty accessING basic necessities like food and clothing, and feeling unsafe on the streets. In addition, all of the participants reported that their children had been negatively affected by homelessness. They described how their children had difficulty succeeding in school and experienced behavioral problems as a result of living in shelters or on the streets.

5. Discussion

The findings from this study suggest that family homelessness is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. Families who are homeless face numerous challenges that can make it difficult for them to escape poverty and attain self-sufficiency. In addition, children who are homeless are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems. These findings underscore the importance of providing services to families who are homeless.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, this paper has explored the experiences of families who are homeless. The findings from this study suggest that family homelessness is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. Families who are homeless face numerous challenges that can make it difficult for them to escape poverty and attain self-sufficiency. In addition, children who are homeless are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems. These findings underscore the importance of providing services to families who are homeless.

FAQ

I was inspired to pursue an externship at Horizon House because of the great work that they do in helping people with mental illness.

The externship has helped me develop professionally by giving me a chance to see how a mental health organization works and learn about the different services they offer.

Some of the most memorable moments during my time at Horizon House have been getting to know the staff and clients and seeing the positive impact that Horizon House has on their lives.

Cite this assignment

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