Method: To comprehensively capture the needs and future perceptions of young homeless women from multiple perspectives, a purposive sample of 15 young women experiencing homelessness and 15 service providers (overall n=30) was interviewed during 2021 in Israel. Women were recruited from homeless shelters and service providers were recruited from services relevant to homeless women in EA. Semistructured interviews with 15 homeless women in EA were conducted using the life history calendar tool, and semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 service providers. Grounded-theory and open, axial and selective coding were used for data analysis. The women’s sample consisted of 7 Arabs, 6 Jews, and 2 Bedouins; about a third of participants identified as bisexual; one participant was pregnant, and one had a child; average age was 20.2. The service providers sample consisted of participants from different services, identified by the women as services they have utilized.
Results: In their detailed description of the needs of homeless women in EA, all participants linked between emotional and concrete supports, for instance, concrete responses were attributed emotional and therapeutic meaning. Both homeless women in EA and service providers referred to the pivotal role of a meaningful positive relationship, as an existential, a-priory need. Participants articulated the need to develop services which can facilitate this type of connection with a service provider, highlighting the importance of continuum of time and space. Most participants related to the need for designated services for homeless women in EA that take into consideration the gendered and age-based dimensions of their homelessness experience and utilize trauma-informed and harm-reduction-based practices. Lastly, the need for independent housing with support (financial and social-emotional) as opposed to shelters was identified. Regarding future perceptions of homeless women in EA, gaps were found between women and service providers; service providers held a more pessimistic perspective regarding the future of homeless women in EA, whereas the women mentioned both short-term and long-term goals, including volunteering and helping others.
Conclusions and Implications: The intersection of EA, gender and homelessness is a much-overlooked social issue. Findings are relevant for developing services and for informing interventions to enhance engagement with services for homeless women in EA. Given the strong emphasis on the role of connection, it is essential to develop a continuum of care which facilitates this type of relationship with service providers as a key component to prevent homelessness and to helping homeless women in EA exit concrete and emotional homelessness.