The ñLived Experiencesî of a chronically homeless, urban population: Systemic challenges to achieving their vocational and rehabilitation dreams

Abstract

The population of people who are chronically homeless is a vulnerable one that requires societal contributions that treat the personal, social, political, and economic dimensions of homelessness. æHow can productive change occur? The answer may lie in learning how it is that the chronically homeless are reacting to and interacting with public funded programs such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which are meant to help achieve mutual goals of rehabilitation out of homelessness for those with serious disabilities. Through an integrative ecological systems and feminist psychological model that conceptualizes ñhelpî as integrating the voices of the ñhelpedî into crucial solution-making processes, this qualitative research aims for (1) a new multi-dimensional definition of what it means to be chronically homeless from the perspective of those experiencing the condition; (2) ways chronically homeless individuals are successfully and unsuccessfully navigating through the Social Security AdministrationÍs (SSA) Disability Determination Process (DDP); and (3) insights into different homeless groups and their perceived challenges to vocational and rehabilitation aspirations. Emergent themes have been identified from semi-structured individual interviews conducted in a homeless shelter in an urban setting. A mixed-methods research approach is being used to analyze the narratives of a sample of 20 presently homeless individuals. Specific results are forthcoming, but data is anticipated to bring us closer to solving issues of efficiency within the current DDP model as well as other relevant public policies influencing the chronically homeless. This project is being funded by Public Policy Inc..