Health Soc Care Community. 2022 Sep 21. doi: 10.1111/hsc.14035. Online ahead of print.
Research aimed at identifying and evaluating approaches to homelessness has predominately focused on strategies for supporting tenancy sustainment. Fewer studies focus on strategies for enabling thriving following homelessness, and the perspectives of service providers and organisational leaders (SPOL) on this topic are rare. We conducted this study in the context of a community-based participatory research project in two cities in Ontario, Canada. This research was aimed at identifying the strengths and challenges of existing supports in enabling thriving following homelessness, followed by co-designing a novel intervention alongside persons with lived experience of homelessness (PWLEH) and SPOL. The current study presents the findings of interviews conducted in 2020-2021 with SPOL in organisations serving PWLEH. We interviewed 60 individuals including service providers (n = 38; 63.3%) and organisational leaders (n = 22; 36.7%) using semi-structured qualitative interviews. Interviews were conducted and recorded on Zoom to align with physical distancing protocols associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed abductively informed by the lenses of social justice and health equity. The essence of our findings is represented by a quote from a research participant: ‘We stick people in a house and say okay, you’re housed. The problem is solved’. This essence was expressed through five themes: (1) stuck in a system that prevents thriving, (2) substance use as an important coping strategy that prevents tenancy sustainment and thriving, (3) the critical importance of targeting community integration following homelessness, (4) incorporating peer expertise as imperative and (5) people need to be afforded options in selecting housing and services following homelessness. Our findings indicate that SPOL envision possibilities of thriving following homelessness yet are embedded within a system that often prevents them from supporting individuals who are leaving homelessness to do so. Research, practice and policy implications are discussed.
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