Homelessness : A Narrative on Experiencing and Constructing Life Trajectories
Cabrera, Elizabeth C.
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This study focused on the lives of nine homeless individuals, seven of whom where men and two were women. Each participant was given a set of questions that referred to their homeless state and their experiences with becoming homeless. Themes were created through the process of "coding" where they were either "emic" or "etic codes. The study had a few limitations. The sample size was rather small to get plausible data that could represent more of the homeless population. Another limitation is the disparity among the men and women that were interviewed. Some of the positives of this narrative on homeless people were that each participant was comfortable about expressing their feelings and sharing their personal stories. There were a total of seven themes that emerged from the interviews. Though there was overlapping among the themes many of the participants did not have similar stories. Drug use and psychological distress were the two themes that each participant had in common with each other. Those two themes intertwined with each other as most homeless individuals seemed to have either one or both of those factors. Their stories were compelling and the majority of them had overcome situations that seem impossible. They are all strong resilient people who now smiled at a brighter future. One of the themes that emerged unexpectedly was the Language and Education because, the author states, she had made prior assumptions of how a homeless person would act about their lack of education. She was surprised at the number of participants who were going to school even after they had gone through hell and back. Regardless of what people thought of them they knew that in order to be able to get ahead in life they need an education. For many of them it took them a long time to figure it out and they want to let other people know that anything is possible if they really want it. Though there were a couple of risk factors, the most prevalent among all participants was economic stability. Each participant found himself or herself falling back into old habits due to the lack of resources. Many of the participants were able to find stability for short periods but that quickly ended due to the lack of resources provided to homeless individuals. Long-term stability could be attained with resources that can cater to all types of people who are in a state of homelessness. There is no "one" type of homelessness or homeless individual. Though many suffered through similar situations each participant overcame adversity in their own individualized way. Homelessness is everywhere in the United States and each state has its own perception of how a homeless person should act or look like. There are many stigmas surrounding the homeless population but the participant's stories are not just told by homeless people they are told by real people who unfortunately fell into a state of homelessness due to drugs, financial instability, etc. These stories are only a few of many that have not or will never be told.