Pathways to Homelessness of Older Adults Living in Extended Stay Hotels
Method/Analyses:Nine older adults residing in extended stay hotels were recruited from a northeast suburban county in Metro Atlanta using flyers and snowball sampling. Data was collected from 2006 to 2012. Residents were provided cameras to document images of their extended stay “home”. They were also engaged in one-hour in-depth interviews.
A grounded theory approach was used to identify themes of older adults’ pathways to extended stay hotel living. Themes emerged using open and axial coding techniques. Three categories of loss were identified to explain transitions into hotel homelessness: income loss, health loss and companion loss. Additionally, inadequate access to community resources, chronic health problems and inadequate income were identified as barriers preventing exits from hotel homelessness.
Results: Income loss, health loss and companion loss were identified as the three contributors leading to housing displacement of older adults. Fourty five percent of respondents were initially displaced due to income loss. The other five respondents moved to the extended stay hotel as a result of companion loss (22%) or health loss (33%). Inadequate access to community resources (89%), chronic health problems (33%) and inadequate income (67%)were identified as barriers to hotel exits.
Conclusion and Implications: As identified in this study, a lack of community resources designed to meet the needs of homeless older adults can make the transition from homelessness to stable housing complicated and seemingly impossible. Implications for practice include practitioners understanding of the chronic emotional stress associated with homelessness as a result of loss. Additionally, a significant number of respondents were experiencing first time homelessness which suggests a need for more research in this area. Such research might explore whether first time homeless older adults have different transition experiences than chronically homeless older adults. Future research focusing on safe and affordable housing solutions for adults 50 and over is also essential in aiding populations of people after income, health and companion loss.