Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Jamison D. Fargo


Jamison D. Fargo


Maria C. Norton


Scott C. Bates


Homelessness occurs when individual resources are not enough for the demands of a given environment. It is not an arbitrary state of being, or a class of individual, it is a marker that signals a person has fallen to the extreme low end of a continuum of poverty. Perceiving homelessness as a point on a spectrum versus a discrete state, leads to research and explanations concerning how someone goes from being housed to being homeless, which can lead to more meaningful results than conceptualizing the homeless population as a class of people. It allows for the exploration of identification markers of at-risk individuals, and more effective designs for preventive measures versus just intervention efforts. This study looks at some potential factors involved in an individual's ability to attain resources and deal with environmental stresses. By identifying variables that co-occur across time, in a specific direction with the outcome of homelessness, we can identify indicators of extreme resource depletion and imminent homelessness, which can then be used to flag high-risk individuals in the population. The results of this study suggest that external resource pressures meet with poor ability to earn and maintain individual resources during the early adult years of an individual's life, but then stabilize around the early to mid-twenties. During this time, education and training, along with having a live-in partner are the most important protective factors against experiencing homelessness. The number of weeks worked annually, personal income, and having a driver's license are also significant protective factors against the onset of homelessness. Incremental changes in each of these factors in relation to housing status was identified, supporting the study of homelessness as a transitional state on a continuum of poverty versus a discrete state of being. Pro-social affiliation is discussed as a possible underlying reason for resource stability and low risk of homelessness.



Included in

Psychology Commons