Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)

Saturday, January 19, 2008: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
Palladian Ballroom (Omni Shoreham)
[Pov/C] Making Homelessness Research Matter; Diverse Perspectives on How Homeless People Negotiate Life’S Challenges
Symposium Organizer:Bart W. Miles, PhD, Wayne State University
Just Gettin' by… Labor Activities of Street-Based Homeless
Bart W. Miles, PhD
Modeling Victimization among Homeless Persons with Mental Illness
David E. Pollio, PhD, Brian Perron, PhD, Benjamin Alexander-Eitzman, David F. Gillespie, PhD
Moderating Effects of Risk and Protective Factors on Mental Health Symptoms, Parenting Daily Hassles and Parental Involvement in the Schools for Homeless Mothers
Debra M. Hernandez Jozefowicz-Simbeni, PhD
Recovery among the Homeless Mentally Ill: the Impact of Cumulative Adversity
Deborah K. Padgett, Ben Henwood, MSW
Abstract Text:
Historically social work has been a significant player in addressing the issue of homelessness through advocacy, service, and research. On any given night, 800,000 people may be without a home in the United States, and 3.5 million Americans may experience homelessness each year. The largest portions of the homeless population are single adults, who often suffer from mental illness, substance addiction or co-occurring disorders. However, families comprise 40 percent of the homeless population. Homeless people have significant health problems; 38% with alcohol misuse/abuse, 26% other drug use issues, 39% with mental health problems, 3% report HIV/AIDS, and 26% reported other acute health problems, and 46% report chronic health conditions. Further research suggests that of the homeless; 23% are veterans, 25% were abused as children, 27% were in foster care/institutions as children, 21% were homeless as children, and 54% have been incarcerated at sometime in their live. The unique characteristics of the homeless population and complex array of challenges faced by them, creates a need for quality social work research that informs policy and practice. The research presented in this symposium attempts to enhance social work knowledge about the unique challenges faced by various segments of the homeless population. These four research endeavors provide examples of how social work research can to better inform homelessness policies and practices.

In the first presentation Padgett & Henwood look at cumulative adversity and it's role in recovery among dually-diagnosed homeless persons in two types of intervention programs (treatment first and housing first). They identify that social work intervention that should focus on basic needs while working towards recovery, therefore reducing adversity that can derail the recovery process. In the second presentation Pollio et. al. explore the influence of victimization on depressive symptoms among homeless persons with SMI. Based on their findings they suggest advocacy for increased safety among the homeless population and the need for mental health service providers to focus on victimization and depression among homeless persons with SMI. In the third presentation Jozefowicz-Simbeni discusses the effect of housing instability and life stressors on homeless mothers and their families. She suggests that the unique challenges faced by homeless mothers require service providers to consider alternative interventions that address the complex needs of mothers and their children. In the fourth presentation Miles discusses how homeless people engage in a wide array of low paying/temporary labor activities as means of survival. He suggests that social workers challenge the myth that homeless people don't want to work, and provide access to stable and substantive job opportunities for homeless individuals.

This symposium addresses the theme of this year's SSWR conference "Research That Matters" by offering translational homelessness research that is vital to social work practice with the homeless. All of the findings presented inform practice interventions and provide policy implications linked to addressing the challenges faced by homeless people. Each of the presentations provides an exemplar of research that bridges the gap between research and practice, therefore demonstrating "research that matters".

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