Abstract: WITHDRAWN: Tiny Homes As a Response to Homelessness: A Quasi-Experimental Study (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

WITHDRAWN: Tiny Homes As a Response to Homelessness: A Quasi-Experimental Study

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Independence BR G, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Katie Hoops Calhoun, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Jennifer Wilson, PhD, Senior Research Associate, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Daniel Brisson, PhD, Professor, University of Denver, CO
Background and Purpose: Tiny homes have grown in popularity as a dignified and safe shelter response to homelessness. This presentation will describe findings from a quasi-experimental study of a tiny home community for people experiencing homelessness in Denver, Colorado. Scant peer-reviewed research exists about the impact of tiny homes as an innovative shelter option for people experiencing homelessness. Using qualitative and quantitative data and a quasi-experimental design with a wait-list comparison group, this study describes impacts of a tiny home community.

Methods: Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with current and former residents of the tiny home community (n=19) and a waitlist comparison group (n=17). The interviews consisted of 90 items and took roughly 1-hour to complete. Interviews addressed health and wellbeing, employment and income, and housing and service utilization.

Data collection took place between October 2019 and August 2020. Data collected from waitlist comparison group participants included two timepoints: initial survey and 6-month follow-up. Data collected from tiny home residents (both current and former) had varying timepoints including: tiny home move-in; six months after move-in, 12 months after move-in, and 24 months after move-in. For this study we used 6-month follow-up comparison group data and the last survey completed by residents which, on average, was 20 months (SD=13.7) after moving into the tiny home village.

Results: Descriptive statistics of demographic information between residents and comparison group participants show difference between the groups in race and sexual orientation. The resident group self-reported as White (84%) more often than the comparison group (30%) and residents self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual more often (32%) than the comparison group (12%). Residents reported being employed (37%) more often than the comparison group (18%) and there was a statistically significant difference between the groups in ability to pay bills (x2=4.5, df=1, p=.034).

The resident group reported better social support (M=3.59, SD=1.09) than the comparison group (M=2.89, SD=1.15); (t(34)=1.87, p=.070) and more companionship (resident group M=2.95, SD=1.03; comparison group M=2.24, SD=2.76); (t=-1.98, df=34, p=.069). Additionally, the resident group reported better scores for personal mastery (M=24.21; SD=3.68) than the comparison group (M=20.69, SD=5.85); (t=-2.14, df=33, p=.04) and perceived constraints (resident group M=37.84, SD=11.50; comparison group (M=28.19, SD=14.17); (t=-2.23, df=33, p=.033) which are measures on the MIDI Sense of Control Scale.

Conclusions and Implications: This study shows that tiny home communities can be safe alternatives to shelter for some people experiencing homelessness. The study suggests that tiny home communities may impact financial health in ability to pay bills. Finally, this study suggests that tiny home villages can improve social support as well as sense of control over one’s life.