Being Homeless and Becoming Housed: The Interplay of Fateful Moments and Social Support in Neo-liberal Context

This paper presents a qualitative analysis of stories of adults who transitioned from being absolutely homeless to becoming housed. Participants’ stories are particularly salient for what they reveal about this transition in the midst of other challenges including substance use, criminalization, and violence, and within a neo-liberal social policy context. Through strategies of narrative analysis, two interconnected processes of becoming housed are discovered: (a) experiencing fateful moments; and (b) perceiving and creating social supports. The main conclusion is that fateful moments in individuals’ lives intersect with the push and pull of instrumental and expressive supports from family, community, and the state to culminate in an exit from absolute homelessness. The implications of these findings for understanding and responding to homelessness are also discussed. 

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Studies in Social Justice