Abstract: In Search of Normalcy and Freedom: Motivating Factors for Moving on from Supportive Housing Among Moving on Initiative Recipients (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

320P In Search of Normalcy and Freedom: Motivating Factors for Moving on from Supportive Housing Among Moving on Initiative Recipients

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Kimberly Livingstone, PhD, Assistant Professor, Plymouth State University, NH
Emmy Tiderington, PhD, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Background and Purpose: Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is an evidence-based intervention that involves the provision of non-time-limited housing combined with an array of voluntary supportive services. While the benefits of PSH have been well-documented in the homeless services literature, less is known about why individuals choose to leave the security of these highly supportive programs. Studies have shown that some individuals who reside in PSH disengage prematurely, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The research on PSH transitions has generally focused on involuntary exits from PSH, utilizing quantitative methods. Less is known about the nature of voluntary transitions, specifically why individuals would choose to leave PSH from their perspectives. An emerging body of literature on transition experiences and barriers to and facilitators of moving on from PSH sheds some light on potential reasons residents may have for wanting to exit PSH but additional research is needed to directly interrogate PSH residents’ motivating factors for leaving the security of these highly supportive programs. Moving On initiatives (MOIs) are a recent innovation in homeless services that promote voluntary PSH exits by assisting stable tenants with the move from PSH to mainstream affordable housing. These initiatives are now being employed by communities across the United States and in Canada and provide a unique opportunity to examine residents’ motivations for voluntarily exiting PSH.

Methods: This qualitative study utilized in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 40 MOI participants given the opportunity to leave PSH voluntarily through a MOI. The first author reviewed these transcripts and found several concepts from a previous study arose in these data. Using a framework analysis approach, an a priori framework was developed to be tested and refined in this new study sample. While previous concepts informed the framework development, additional concepts were added to the framework when brought forth by participants. All transcripts were systematically coded using this framework. Coded excerpts were then grouped into emerging themes using a charting method and a mapping method was used to understand associations between themes. Strategies of rigor in qualitative research used in this study included peer debriefing and member checking with participants.

Results: Motivating factors for leaving PSH included perceived increases in autonomy and control post-move and having a “normal” life, which involved leaving the nest, being on one’s own, being free from supervision, apartment visits, and living among others, and having freedom to come and go from the program, and actively participate in one’s family. Participants described their conflicts between living in supportive housing and fulfilling roles in their families. In many cases, their familial roles conflicted with supportive housing visitor restrictions.

Conclusions and Implications: These findings suggest that, from the perspective of residents, PSH services could be improved by relaxing restrictive monitoring practices that contribute to perceived loss of autonomy and control, as well as through better integration of family supports into PSH service models.