Social Networks and Homelessness Among Women Heads of Household

Toohey, Siobhan, M., Shinn, M. & Weitzman, B.C.
American Journal of Community Psychology , 33:1-2, pp. 7-20.

To examine possible bidirectional relationships between homelessness and deficient social networks, we compared the networks of 251 mothers before, and approximately 5 years after, their families entered shelters with networks of 291 consistently housed poor mothers. At Time 1, more women on the verge of homelessness than housed women reported that they had mothers, grandmothers, friends, and relatives but fewer believed these network members were housing resources. At Time 2, after homeless women were rehoused, these network differences between consistently housed and formerly homeless women had largely disappeared. Contrary to prior research findings, formerly homeless mothers did not report smaller networks, more children or fewer partners. However, formerly homeless women did report fewer positive functions. Because of city policies, homeless mothers were frequently rehoused far from network members.

Wagner Faculty